Monday, 2 March 2015

February 2015 in Review

This month, I tried to make good on my attempts at balancing viewings of films from this year with films from other years, eras, countries, etc. Also, I decided to make my way through the Saw films, to see how the series truly holds up. SPOILER: Not too well. So, let's take a gander at the films I saw over the past February.

Mortdecai - 1/5 -At times, it can seem as though the hate towards the Johnny Depp film is just an excuse to jump on the bandwagon of hating the actor. But then when you actually see the film, you realise it's justified. The latest in a line of misfires starring Depp in a lead role, this time he stars as a self-serving, bigoted buffoon who bumbles about all over and is difficult to care for.

Kingsman: The Secret Service - 4.5/5 - Matthew Vaughn shows how at home he is with adapting Mark Millar's comics, playing with the spy genre in a gleefully subversive manner. The kinetic action is pulse-racing, with a church scene being an early frontrunner for "Best fight of 2015". The third act truly lets loose, with a brilliant ending reminiscent of Bond flicks, only more straight forwards.

Justice League: Throne of Atlantis - 3/5 - The starring role for DC's kick-ass, aquatic hero unfortunately takes the form of a conventional origin story. It's unneeded, as the film would've worked better if he was more of a seasoned warrior who knew of his Atlantis bloodline, but unwilling to accept the throne. Wonder Woman & Superman share a dull romance outside of group scenes, while Shazam and Flash are left essentially sidelined. But the animation, voice work and fight scenes are commendable.

Best film of the month & Best
film rewatched: Requiem for a Dream

Saw II (rewatch) - 2.5/5 - Poor to mediocre acting, schizophrenic editing, underdeveloped characters, unsubtle direction, needless flashbacks. Yep, it's a Saw film. Certainly a step-down from it's predecessor, but the deeper look at Jigsaw's motivations, and the final twists and turns elevate this film above being merely bad.

The Theory of Everything - 3.5/5 - Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones put powerful performances into their roles, helping the material rise above it's generic story. At the end of the day, it still feels like a by the numbers tale of somebody who overcame their disease, but got more interest because it happened to be about somebody famous.

American Sniper - 2/5 - Bradley Cooper's spectacular performance can't make up for Clint Eastwood's bland direction, Jason Hall's awful script, or the simplistic viewpoint which can be summed up as "US Military can do no wrong, Iraq residents are bad!".

Best film seen in cinemas & Best film
new to me: Kingsman: The Secret Service

Jupiter Ascending - 3/5 - The Wachowski's deliver a well-thought out universe, packed with potential and outstanding inventiveness. Unfortunately, this can't make up for the weak script, which fails to turn characters interesting, make us care for Jupiter's family as much as she does, or deliver a satisfying resolution to two of the three villains. Let's not even mention Eddie Redmayne's baffling performance.

The Jerk (rewatch) - 3.5/5 - Steve Martin brings a fantastic performance & energy to the role of Navin, the perfect example of how to craft a lovable idiot of a lead character. As for the film, it lacks in anything resembling an actual plot, and many of the jokes end up missing the mark. But thankfully, more jokes end up hitting the mark, resulting in a film definitely worth a watch.

It Follows - 4/5 - David Robert Mitchell takes an incredible premise and brings it to life, in this psycho-sexual piece of horror. Maika Monroe is fantastic, sharing an organic rapport with her (mostly) underdeveloped friends. The curse is the best thing, played out as a mythical tale unfortunately brought to life, with what's known passed on like some urban legend, or discovered through trial and error. The final act diminishes this a bit with iffy effects and a questionable finale, but the final scene somewhat makes up for things by its willingness to leave things on a question mark.

Biggest disappointment: American Sniper

Requiem For A Dream (rewatch) - 5/5 - What Darren Aronofsky has crafted here is a haunting tale of four characters, and how their addictions destroy their lives. While doing so, he has created a visual style that's just as addictive, thanks to the bravura techniques utilized. Jared Leto's performance is full of sincerity and vulnerability, giving his best acting work. Ellen Burstyn's performance manages to be both peppy, and disheartening, while Jennifer Connelly is mesmerising and Marlon Wayans proves what A Haunted House made us forget: he can actually act.

Saw III (rewatch) - 1/5 - The third entry marks the turning point for the franchise, where it became trashy and unpleasant to watch. The focus on the senseless gore takes precedence over making any memorable or likeable characters, while the overall result is a dull affair.

Delicatessen - 4/5 - The directing duo of Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet take the unapologetically absurd premise of a post-holocaust, cannibalism comedy, and manage to pull it off effortlessly. The stunning visuals, cinematography and sound certainly helps, allowing us to feel as if we're actually inside this shack. The ensemble cast do their work fantastically. Silvie Laguna stands out as Aurore, the woman whose repeated suicide attempts keep being thwarted in hilariously unbelievable ways, but Jean-Claude Dreyfuss' Clapet manages to steal the show.

Biggest surprise: Delicatessen

Saw IV (rewatch) - 2.5/5 - The fourth entry into the franchise is most interesting when taking a trip into John's past, seeing a more cohesive timeline of what made him become Jigsaw. Unfortunately, the bland main character and the usual franchise problems are still evident. There's also an interconnected feel, with all the connective tissue between films appearing, and it's rather interesting.

Power/Rangers - 4/5 - Joseph Kahn's short film takes the concept of the Power Rangers and takes the dark and gritty route. Utilizing this modern day Hollywood trope, he cranks all the ridiculous aspects to 11, turning the overall film into one self-aware joke itself. This send-up includes the traditional tropes of swearing, murder, drugs, and even implied threesomes. Through this short, Kahn delivers what should be a definitive full stop on dark and gritty reboots, and big screen versions of the Power Rangers.

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth (rewatch) - 4/5 - The popular video game franchise is reimagined as an 8 minute short, as realistically grounded as possible. The result is the best live action adaptation of Mortal Kombat, and it's a real shame Kevin Tancharoen didn't get to fully realise his vision onto the big screen, or into his Legacy mini-series.

Worst film of the month: The Boy Next Door

The Boy Next Door - 0.5/5 - Take Rob Cohen's bland direction, mix it with Barbara Curry's poor script, and you get this poor attempt at an erotic thriller. Awful points for having a scene that's clearly rape, never acknowledging it as such, AND placing the blame on the victim.

Seven Chances - 4/5 - Buster Keaton shines in the lead role of this charming comedy, building up well to one of the most spectacular chase scenes in cinema. A mob of angry brides, chasing after poor Keaton, it's a fantastic sight to behold.


Best film of the month: Requiem for a Dream
Best film seen in cinemas: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Best film watched for the first time: Kingsman: The Secret Service
Best film rewatched: Requiem for a Dream
Biggest Disappointment: American Sniper
Biggest Surprise: Delicatessen
Worst film of the month: The Boy Next Door

Number of films watched: 17

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