What I watched in… July 2016

star-trek-beyond-poster-international

Favorite of the Month: Star Trek Beyond (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. Godzilla Vs. Destoroyah (1995), B
  2. Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla (2002), B+
  3. Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964), B
  4. Godzilla Vs. Megaguirus (2000), B
  5. Godzilla Vs. Space Godzilla (1994), C+
  6. Godzilla (2014), A
  7. Red Dawn (1984), B; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  8. Bone Tomahawk (2015), A-
  9. The Neverending Story (1984), A-
  10. Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (1985), F; MST3K Riff, A
  11. Ring of Terror (1962), F; MST3K Riff, B
  12. Monster A-Go Go (1965), F; MST3K Riff, B-
  13. The Muppets Take Manhattan (1984), A-
  14. Star Trek (2009), A
  15. Star Trek Into Darkness (2013), B
  16. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), B
  17. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982), A+
  18. Star Trek III: The Search For Spock (1984), B+
  19. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), B+
  20. Ghostbusters (2016), C-
  21. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), C-
  22. Star Trek Beyond (2016), A
  23. Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) B+
  24. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), A-
  25. Star Trek: Generations (1994), C+
  26. Star Trek: First Contact (1996), A-
  27. Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), C+
  28. Star Trek: Nemesis (2002), B-
  29. LEGO DC Comics Superheroes: Justice League-Gotham City Breakout (2016), B
  30. Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015), B
  31. Back to the Beach (1987), B
  32. Summer Rental (1985), B-
  33. Scooby-Doo (2002), C+

What I watched in… June 2016

Zootopia

Favorite of the Month: Zootopia (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. Barbershop (2002), B
  2. Barbershop 2: Back in Business (2004), B+
  3. Beauty Shop (2005), B-
  4. Extraordinary Tales (2013), B+
  5. The Man From UNCLE (2015), B-
  6. Q, the Winged Serpent (1982), D
  7. Cujo (1983), C
  8. Brain of Blood (1971), F; Cinematic Titanic Riff, C
  9. The Corpse Vanishes (1942), D; MST3K Riff, B
  10. Castle Freak (1995), D+
  11. Zootopia (2016), A+
  12. Ghost in the Shell (1995), B
  13. Silver Linings Playbook (2012), A-
  14. Mystery Men (1999), B
  15. We Are Twisted F*cking Sister! (2014), B
  16. Project Almanac (2015), B+
  17. Unfriended (2014), B+
  18. The Bat People (1974), F, MST3K Riff, B
  19. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), C-
  20. Fast and Furious (2009), B-
  21. The Werewolf Versus the Vampire Woman (1971), F
  22. The Giver (2014), B
  23. All Work and All Play (2015), B-
  24. Buffalo Rider (1978), F; RiffTrax Riff B
  25. Futurama: The Beast With a Billion Backs (2008), B
  26. The LEGO Movie (2014), A+
  27. Colossus and the Headhunters (1963), D; MST3K Riff, B
  28. Finding Dory (2016), A
  29. The Monster Squad (1987), B
  30. The Last Shark (1981), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
  31. The Lost World (1960), B-
  32. Equilibrium (2002), D
  33. Addicted to Fresno (2015), B
  34. Fire Maidens of Outer Space (1956), D; MST3K Riff, B
  35. Code Name: Diamond Head (1977), F; MST3K Riff, B
  36. The Phantom Planet (1961), D, MST3K Riff, B
  37. Tormented (1960), F; MST3K Riff, B
  38. Sleepaway Camp (1983), D+
  39. Independence Day (1996), A
  40. Independence Day: Resurgence (2006), B

What I Watched In… May 2016

Captain America-Civil War Poster

Favorite of the month: Captain America: Civil War (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

1. Paradox (2016), D
2. Man Up (2015), B-
3. Finders Keepers (2015), B+
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), A
5. Captain America: Civil War (2016), A+
6. Dumbo (1941), B
7. The Blob (1988) C+
8. Fantastic Four (2015), F
9. Cloverfield (2008), B+
10. The Nice Guys (2016), A-
11. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young (2014), B+
12. Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One (1968), C
13. House (1977), D
14. Hillbillys in a Haunted House (1967), D; RiffTrax Riff, B+
15. LEGO Scooby-Doo!: Haunted Hollywood (2016), B
16. Goosebumps (2015), B
17. Spaced Invaders (1990), D
18. Plan 9 From Outer Space (1959); F, RiffTrax Riff, B
19. Toy Story 3 (2010), A+
20. X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), B-
21. Almost There (2015), B

In addition to the list, this month my podcast (the All New Showcase) reviewed Captain America: Civil War in Episode 322: Free Comic Book Day 2016.

What I watched in… April 2016

Hush_2016_poster

Favorite of the Month: Hush (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), B+
  2. April Fool’s Day (1986), D
  3. Fateful Findings (2013), F
  4. Jack and the Beanstalk (1952), B
  5. The Hudsucker Proxy (1994), A-
  6. Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe (1990), F; RiffTrax Riff, B
  7. House on Haunted Hill (1959), B-; RiffTrax Riff, B+
  8. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), A
  9. My Dinner With Andre (1981), B
  10. The Blob (1958), B-
  11. The Beginning of the End (1957), D; MST3K Riff, A
  12. The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway (2011), B
  13. Divergent (2014), B
  14. Anastasia (1997), B+
  15. Cube (1997), B
  16. Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (1991), D
  17. Cube 2: Hypercube (2002), B
  18. Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), A
  19. Cube Zero (2004), B-
  20. Astro Boy (2009), B-
  21. Hush (2016), A-
  22. Abar, the First Black Superman (1977), D
  23. Criminal (2016), C+
  24. Justice League Vs. Teen Titans (2016), B+
  25. Masters of the Universe (1987), C
  26. Time Bandits (1981), A
  27. Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages (1922), B-
  28. Night of the Living Dead (1968), A; RiffTrax Riff, B

What I Watched In… March 2016

Batman V Superman Movie Poster

Favorite of the Month: Batman V Superman-Dawn of Justice (2016)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. Amadeus (1984), A-
  2. LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League-Cosmic Clash (2016), B+
  3. Age of Consent (1969), B
  4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), B
  5. The Guest House (2012), D
  6. H.H. Holmes: America’s First Serial Killer (2004), C
  7. Time Lapse (2015), B
  8. The Fast and the Furious (2001), B
  9. Batman: Bad Blood (2016) B+
  10. Vertigo (1958), B+
  11. The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain (1995), B
  12. Chaos on the Bridge (2014), B+
  13. 10 Cloverfield Lane (2016), A-
  14. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), A+
  15. Deathstalker and the Warriors From Hell (1988), D
  16. Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday (2016), B
  17. The Passion (2016), A
  18. 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), C
  19. Batman: Year One (2011), A
  20. Wonder Woman (2009), B+
  21. Man of Steel (2013), A
  22. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), A

In addition to the list, this month my podcast (the All New Showcase) reviewed two of the new releases. Click on the links to listen to our thoughts on 10 Cloverfield Lane and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice.

What I Watched In… February 2016

HHGG-DVD

Favorite of the Month: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. Frankenstein (1910), B
  2. The Shadow Strikes (1937), C
  3. Grey Gardens (1975), C+
  4. Mitchell (1975), F; MST3K Riff, A
  5. Turbo Kid (2015), B
  6. Cooties (2014), B+
  7. Dracula Untold (2014), C-
  8. It’s Such a Beautiful Day (2012), A
  9. Stagecoach (1939), A
  10. Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014), B-
  11. Master Ninja I (1984), F; MST3K Riff, B
  12. Master Ninja II (1984), F; MST3K Riff, B
  13. Deadpool (2016), B
  14. War of the Worlds (1953), B
  15. Home (2015), B
  16. The Witch (2016), B
  17. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (1981 Miniseries), A-
  18. Inside Out (2015), A
  19. Batman: The Movie (1966), C

Learning the Wrong Lesson From Deadpool

(Reblogged from All New Showcase…)

Deadpool Movie PosterIn case you somehow missed it, the Deadpool movie was released last weekend and immediately began shattering box office records: best February opening of all time, best opening ever for an R-rated movie, best opening ever for a first-time director (that’d be Tim Miller), and it came in third in the swimsuit competition. And of course, as always, the movie industry began to thoughtfully and meticulously scrutinize the film’s success to determine what qualities helped it reap the bounty, then implement carefully-considered strategies to create new content that may also be prosperous for the studios.

Ha! I’m kidding, of course. No, the movie studios immediately concluded that the American public wants superhero movies to be full of F-words and Ryan Reynolds’s ass. So today, in what could easily be the first in an infinite series of columns, I would like to discuss how 20th Century Fox – and probably every other major studio – has completely missed the point of what made Deadpool kick butt.

Let’s start with what is probably the least significant part of its success: the timing. Like I said, Deadpool’s $135 million broke the record for the highest February opening of all time. But look at the competition: Zoolander 2, the sequel nobody asked for, and How to Be Single, a movie built around Rebel Wilson playing the only character she ever plays, and who wasn’t even entertaining the first time she did it. That’s not to say Deadpool wasn’t a good movie – in fact, that’s my whole point. January and February, traditionally, have been cinematic graveyards where studios try to bury movies they don’t think anybody will want to see in a season where they don’t think people want to go to the movies. I’ve long believed this is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s not that people don’t want to go to the movies in February, it’s that the studios don’t give them movies worth watching. Deadpool demonstrates that if you make a movie people want to see, they’ll come out to see it no matter when it is released.

WolverineAnd that brings us to the second question: why was Deadpool a movie people wanted to see? The blood? We have the news for that. The nudity? We have the Internet. The profanity? We have public high schools. All of these are easy answers, and all of these are wrong. And yet, when Fox immediately followed the box office number announcement by saying the third Wolverine movie will be rated R, they’re essentially saying that’s the reason that Deadpool worked. This is incredibly small-minded.

(To be fair, making an R-rated Wolverine was at least under discussion as far back as the first solo movie starring the character. It’s not a new idea. But man, they made sure to let everybody know that after the weekend box office closed, didn’t they?)

The reason those elements worked in Deadpool is because all of the hyper-violence and irreverent dialogue helped to create a tone that is faithful to the character. We didn’t want to see violence, necessarily, we just wanted to see the Deadpool we love. In fact, I’m going to be a little controversial here: I don’t even think Deadpool needed to be an R-rated movie. I don’t mind that it was, I very much enjoyed it, but despite what a lot of people seem to think the majority of his comic book appearances have not been full of F-bombs and boobs. (Sure, the violence is there, but the MPAA is way less concerned with violence than sex or language. Chop off all the limbs you want, but God forbid you show a nipple.)

What are they going to do in an R-rated Wolverine movie that will make it better than the first two? Curse more? The word he’s most associated with in the comics is “bub.” Bury him in naked women? Wolverine’s romantic relationships are classically tortured. Sure the fighting may be more explicit, but does anybody really think X-Men Origins: Wolverine would have been a good movie if only they showed more blood when Hugh Jackman cut off Ryan Reynolds’s head?

Superman the MovieThe best superhero movies (and in fact, most of the best adaptations of any kind) are those that maintain the spirit and feel of the source material: Richard Donner’s Superman, the first two Sam Raimi Spider-Man movies, and most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe work for precisely this reason. People who have read about a character for years – decades even – don’t want to see a version of a character whipped up by committee, they want to see the version they love. (This, of course, will cause debate when a character has been around long enough that there are multiple valid interpretations, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

Compare that to the most epic failure of recent years, the 2015 Fantastic Four. The movie takes a comic whose best stories are about a family of explorers and turns them into a militarized unit who barely share any screen time. Director Josh Trank maintains that studio meddling sank his movie. I tend to think that when the director reportedly tells his actors not to read the comics the movie is based on, there isn’t much more a studio can do to screw it up.

Batman-The Killing 1Let’s not forget that tone is dependent on the individual story as well. There was a lot of buzz last year when the producers of the upcoming Batman: The Killing Joke animated movie announced they were given permission by the studio to go for an R-rated film. It doesn’t have to be, but this is the story that forever entrenched the Joker as a true icon of evil. Gone was the bank robbing clown of the Silver Age – now he was a horrific, unhinged psychopath acting out on a twisted fixation with Batman by torturing his friends. It would be hard to tell that story faithfully and still maintain a PG-13. But that doesn’t mean a Ben Affleck Batman movie or an animated version of the first appearance of Bat-Mite should suddenly be rated R.

All of this is to say that, yes, you probably could make a good R-rated Wolverine movie, but it won’t be good because it’s rated R. The other elements need to be there too.

But what about all of the people who enjoyed Deadpool but don’t read comics? They don’t know if the depiction on screen is faithful to the comic book, and most of them wouldn’t care if they did. So why did they come out in force to see this movie? For one thing, of course, the marketing campaign was as brilliant as the marketing for John Carter was abysmal, but good marketing will only get you so far. People also liked the movie. Why? Obviously, the answer for each individual person will differ, but if I were to venture a guess for the majority, I would say it’s because it’s something different. Look, I would be perfectly happy all day long if they just took the scripts of my favorite comics and put them on screen in front of me, but I also know I’m a 10th-level nerd and what I want probably doesn’t apply to the public at large.

Spider-Man BittenWhat does apply, however, is that people get tired of seeing the same thing. Origin stories, for example. Not just comic fans, but viewers in general are done with origin stories. Nobody needs to see Krypton blow up, Thomas and Martha Wayne gunned down, or Peter Parker bitten by a spider ever again. We get it.

Even with less iconic characters, origin stories are largely unnecessary at this point. If a character in a movie is a cop, a firefighter, or a baseball player, people don’t demand we spend half the movie explaining how we get to that point before the real plot begins. Granted, superheroes follow a less conventional path than those other occupations, but at this point the public is familiar enough with the tropes that all but the most convoluted of origins can usually be dealt with in a quick flashback or a few lines of expository dialogue.

“But Blake,” you say, “Deadpool was an origin movie. Doesn’t that contradict your point?” Man, you can be kind of a jerk sometimes. But no, it doesn’t contradict my point. I said that origins are unnecessary, not that they can’t be done well. Audiences – myself included – will accept even the most tired premise if the execution is entertaining and original enough.

M Payoff 1shtAnd that brings me to the most important part of Deadpool’s success. It didn’t matter that it was an origin, because it still felt different from any other superhero movie of the last 17 years. (I consider the modern era of superhero movie to have begun with 1999’s Blade. You know, that other R-rated Marvel movie everybody seems to have forgotten about.) Look at the major successes since then. After the first few years, when superheroes were still a novelty, the biggest movies all brought something new to the table. Iron Man was cocky, witty, and did away with that secret identity jazz right away. It was unique at the time. What’s more, the after-credits stinger (another novelty in 2008) opened the doors for the then-revolutionary Marvel Cinematic Universe. That eventually led to Avengers, another mega-hit, because we had never before seen six superheroes from four different movies come together as a team. The best movies of the eight years since Iron Man all bring something different to the superhero. Guardians of the Galaxy was a space opera. Captain America: The Winter Soldier was a political thriller. The Dark Knight was an epic crime drama. And none of them – even the ones that were sequels to other movies – felt like anything else we had ever seen.

SuicideSquadPoster-181c2In an odd way, this actually makes Suicide Squad the most interesting superhero movie for the rest of 2016. I’m the most die-hard Superman fan you’ll find, and I’ve been waiting to see him on screen with Batman and Wonder Woman since I learned how to read. I couldn’t be more excited for that movie. But Suicide Squad is the first time, as far as I can remember, that a superhero movie has actually starred the villains. (You could make an argument for Magneto and Mystique in the most recent X-Men movies, but the moral ambiguity in those films is so thick that nobody could hear you anyway.) We’ve seen villain-starring comics plenty of times, but it’s never really happened on screen. That means the success or failure of this movie will be one for the books. The trailer was very well-received and people seem to be excited about it.

Which means the weekend after it comes out, expect Fox to announce a new X-Factor movie, starring the classic line-up of Sabertooth, Omega Red, Lady Deathstrike, Toad, and Galactus. Because they just don’t seem to get it.

What I Watched In… January 2016

Rear Window

Favorite of the Month: Rear Window (1954)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

  1. Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films (2014), B+
  2. The Scarlet Pimpernel (1934), A-
  3. Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel (2009), B+
  4. Transcendence (2014), C-
  5. Galaxy Quest (1999), A
  6. Fever Lake (1996), F; RiffTrax Riff, B
  7. Return of the Scarlet Pimpernel (1937), B
  8. Enter the Void (2009), D
  9. Hell and Back (2015), B
  10. The Revenant (2015), B+
  11. The Magnificent Seven (1960), A
  12. Rear Window (1954), A
  13. Icebreaker (2000), D; RiffTrax Riff, B
  14. The Room (2003), F; RiffTrax Riff, A
  15. Jaws (1975), A
  16. Alien (1979), A
  17. The Phantom Planet (1961), D, MST3K Riff, B
  18. Jupiter Ascending (2015), D

What I Watched In… December 2015

Star Wars Episode 7-The Force Awakens

Favorite of the Month-Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)

In the interest of full disclosure (and to generate a little content here) I thought I’d present a regular tally of what movies I managed to see in the previous month. Some of them I’ve written or talked about, most of them I haven’t. This list includes movies I saw for the first time, movies I’ve seen a thousand times, movies I saw in the theater, movies I watched at home, direct-to-DVD, made-for-TV and anything else that qualifies as a movie. I also choose my favorite of the month among those movies I saw for the first time, marked in red. Feel free to discuss or ask about any of them!

1. Magic Christmas Tree (1968), F; RiffTrax Riff, B+
2. Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964), A
3. It’s Your 50th Christmas, Charlie Brown (2015), B+
4. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town (1970), B
5. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas (1999), B
6. A Madea Christmas (2013), D+
7. One Magic Christmas (1985), C
8. The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About Christmas (2012), C+
9. I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998), B-
10. The Christmas Dragon (2015), C
11. Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace (1999), C
12. Christmas With RiffTrax: Santa’s Village of Madness (2012), B+
13. The Story of Santa Claus (1996), C
14. Mrs. Santa Claus (1996), B
15. Star Wars: Episode II-Attack of the Clones (2002), C-
16. Krampus (2015), A-
17. Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith (2005), C+
18. Gremlins (1984), A-
19. Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope (1977), A
20. Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back (1980), A+
21. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990), A
22. The Munsters’ Scary Little Christmas (1996), C
23. Star Wars: Episode VI: Return of the Jedi (1983), A
24. Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), A
25. Babes in Toyland (1961), B
26. Becoming Santa (2011), B+
27. Santa and the Ice Cream Bunny (1972), F; RiffTrax Riff, A-
28. Elf (2003), B+
29. A Muppet Family Christmas (1987), B+
30. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977), A-
31. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), A
32. The Lemon Drop Kid (1951), B+
33. It’s a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (2003), B
34. I Believe in Santa Claus (1984), D-; RiffTrax Riff, B
35. Miracle on 34th Street (1947), A
36. It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), A+
37. Die Hard (1988), A
38. A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008), B+
39. A Christmas Story (1983), A
40. Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964), D-; RiffTrax Riff, B+
41. Home Alone (1990), A
42. Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992), B
43. Joyeux Noel (2005), A
44. Her (2013), A
45. King of Thorn (2009), B
46. The Purge (2013), C-
47. The Purge: Anarky (2014), C+
48. Home (2015), B
49. Shakespeare in Love (1998), A-
50. Good Burger (1997), B-
51. What We Do in the Shadows (2014), B
52. The Muppet Movie (1979), A
53. The Cocoanuts (1929), C
54. A Night at the Opera (1935), A
55. Horse Feathers (1932), B

Ranking 2015 at the movies

Well friends, it’s time to turn the calendar page on yet another year. And cinematically, 2015 was a pretty good one. What follows is every film with a 2015 release date I managed to watch this year (including TV movies and direct-to-DVD movies), with a little commentary on some of them to explain why they ranked like they did. Please note, this is ONLY accounting for those movies I’ve already seen. There are a great number of 2015 releases I’m very interested in but haven’t gotten around to watching yet, including (but not limited to) Creed, The Good Dinosaur, Concussion, Spectre, and The Hateful Eight. (I also have not yet seen Fantastic Four, I should confess. I suppose I will eventually, but at this point I’m looking at watching that movie that the same way I think about a prostate exam — I know it’ll probably happen eventually but that doesn’t mean I have to look forward to it. Also, I’ll wait until it comes on HBO.)

  1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens — This movie did everything the prequels did not. It advanced the story of the Star Wars universe, introduced a wealth of new and engaging characters, and made me excited for the next film coming down the pipe.
  2. The Martian — Incredibly smart and well-researched, surprisingly funny, and altogether a joy to watch, Ridley Scott’s adaptation of the novel by Andy Weir was wonderful.
  3. Mad Max: Fury Road — Having never seen a Mad Max movie until the week before this came out (my wife Erin and I binged the previous three), this was an incredible surprise. Amazing effects, strong characters, and the most spectacular chase scene ever put to film.
  4. The Peanuts Movie — My love for the work of Charles M. Schulz is well-documented and without reservation. The fact that this movie won me over speaks volumes.
  5. Inside Out — Pixar once again nails it with a funny and heartwarming film unlike any other I’ve seen.
  6. Avengers: Age of Ultron — While not having the shock value of the first Avengers movie, where the very fact that we were seeing these characters together for the first time was enough to cause spontaneous geek explosions, Joss Whedon’s follow-up advanced the Marvel Cinematic Universe nicely, with a brilliant introduction to one of my favorite characters from the comics, the Vision.
  7. Jurassic World — Although not as mind-blowing as the original, Jurassic World swept me right up and reminded me of everything I loved about dinosaurs as a kid. And that Chris Pratt is simply charming.
  8. Tomorrowland — Many people have complained about Brad Bird’s vision, but I thought this story about allowing people to pursue what makes them exceptional was very well done.
  9. Black Mass
  10. Ant-Man — A middle-of-the-road Marvel movie, but that’s still enough to put it pretty high on my list.
  11. Krampus — Fun new Christmas horror flick.
  12. Circle — Surprisingly effective one-room sci-fi thriller I found on Netflix.
  13. A LEGO Brickumentary
  14. Back in Time — Fun documentary about Back to the Future. Would have been higher on the list, but there’s nothing really revelatory here. It’s all stuff we’ve heard before.
  15. Teacher of the Year
  16. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  17. Digging Up the Marrow — Bizarre and effective mocumentary horror movie by the creator of the Hatchet franchise.
  18. Home
  19. American Experience: Walt Disney
  20. Tales of Halloween
  21. LEGO Super Heroes: Justice League-Attack of the Legion of Doom!
  22. Jim Henson’s Turkey Hollow
  23. Advantageous
  24. Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief
  25. The Leisure Class
  26. Descendants
  27. Batman Vs. Robin
  28. LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League Vs. Bizarro League
  29. The Nightmare
  30. The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? — Like the Back to the Future documentary, this one is pretty thorough in examining its subject matter, in this case Tim Burton and Nicolas Cage’s failed attempt at a Superman movie. But also like that other one, there’s very little new here. It’s all stories we’ve heard before, and the presentation isn’t nearly as much fun as the former film.
  31. Everly
  32. Justice League: Throne of Atlantis
  33. Parallels
  34. The Green Inferno — I don’t usually watch a movie if I actually expect to dislike it, and as a result, my average ratings often fall on the higher end of the spectrum. This is the first one on this list I genuinely disliked. To be fair, though, it’s not because it was poorly-made, but because Eli Roth’s horror film is simply too gruesome and intense for my tastes.
  35. Strange Magic — A CGI animated jukebox musical about fairies? What the hell was George Lucas thinking?
  36. Sharnkado 3: Oh Hell No! — At this point, I’m just watching them so I can watch the RiffTrax a year later.
  37. A Deadly Adoption — Will Ferrel and Kristin Wiig thought it would be fun to do a Lifetime movie and play it straight. I can only hope it was more fun to make than it was to watch.
  38. 88 — Tedious and dull “thriller” that inexplicably casts Christopher Lloyd as the bad guy. At least, I think he was the bad guy, this movie was all over the place.
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