Month: August 2015

2015 So Far (Jan-Aug)

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The year is already three quarters in, but considering what the Fall and Winter usually mean for quality films, the best just might be yet to come. Let’s hope so, because there have been a whole lot of okay films, but very few that are actually great. From the first four months or so, there was really only one good film. Kingsmen. It’s a Matthew Vaughn movie, which means you know it’s got to be good, but how long can this guys track record last? It’s him Tarantino and the Coen Brothers on the list of diectors who can do no wrong. Even guys like Wes Anderson and David Fincher have had misfires. The same goes for Paul Thomas Anderson and Danny Boyle. But Vaughn is a rare talent and he has yet to disappoint. Kingsmen is the one movie that made it out of those first few months without barely a scratch.

After that, the other great movies were Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ant Man, and Jurassic World. If there was a number five movie it would have to be Avengers: Age of Ultron. Oh, and of course, there’s Burnt, (which won’t actually be released until the Fall), the Bradley Cooper, chef in London flick. That might actually be my favorite movie of the year so far. It’s definitely up there.

Another movie that’s got a spot on the list, as of now. The movie Spy, starring Melissa McCarthy. That Paul Feig is another director who really seems to be able to do no wrong. His movie Bridesmaids was in my top three of the year 2011, and then his film The Heat made my top ten of 2013. Spy is not quite as good as either of those films, but it is still a lot of fun.

And then there’s Mad Max: Fury Road, a movie that I didn’t love the first time, but definitely appreciated. This is a movie that I absolutely want to see again and dig into a little more. It’s a movie that will hold a place on my list for now and very likely will end up there, maybe even in a better position on the list, by years end.

That makes eight films already. Now, of the eight, none are terrific. Even still, it’s nice to have a jumping off point, going into the fall and winter seasons.

 

Here’s the list as it stands right now….

 

1) Burnt

2)  Kingsmen: The Secret Service

3) Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation

4) Straight Outta Compton

5) Ant Man

6) Spy

7) Jurassic World

8) The Avengers: Age of Ultron

9) Mad Max: Fury Road

 

By years end, I don’t expect Spy, the Avengers movie, or even Jurassic World to still be on the list. Instead, you can bet The Hateful Eight has a good chance of being on there. Other than Deathproof, I don’t think there’s ever been a year when a Tarantino movie didn’t make the list. And then there’s the new Bond movie, Spectre, which just might be pretty great, considering it was directed by Sam Mendes (the same guy who made Skyfall, which was also great.)

Now, regarding what the year looks like from a financial point of view, so far Jurassic World is the big winner (it is actually the third highest grossing film of all time.) There’s a sequel on the way. Other success stories that already have sequels in the works from this year include The Equalizer and Kingsmen. The Equalizer and Inside Out are both movies that were good, but not great. These are the kinds of movies (and Trainwreck too, I suppose) that were enjoyable, but far from anything that would earn a place on the years top ten list.

Another movie I expect to see on the list by years end is the new Star Wars film, the Force Awakens. As directed by JJ Abrahms, this film looks superb. Abrahms seems to be doing everything right, using practical effects wherever possible, and really trying to capture the spirit of the original trilogy. He is a great filmmaker who has never made a bad film (Star Trek Into Darkness is his weakest, and it’s still pretty good.) Something tells me that his forray into Star Wars will be great!

 

Movies Missed:

 

Cinderella

Ex Machina

Get Hard

The Gift

Paddington

 

 

Spy Movie Franchises

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Something really interesting happened over the past year or so. The spy movie came back. In a major way. The one series that’s been kicking around the longest has been James Bond. That goes all the way back to Sean Connerey in the sixites, and never really went away. But right now we’ve also got the Mission Impossible films and the Bourne movies, and they all seem to be doing remarkably well.
This past weekend, Mission Impossible Rogue Nation, the fifth film in the series, opened, and it was great. Not only that, but it came in ahead of schedule (it was slated to hit theaters in December and instead got moved up to the first weekend of August,) and achieved instant critical as well as public acclaim. The movie is quite good and is doing very nicely at the box office. So much so, that they are already at work on the next film in the series, which will probably start production next year.
All of that with the newest Bond movie coming out this Fall. And that’s on the heels of the last Bond movie, Skyfall, which made the most money of any film in the series to date. This was such a huge milestone that they got the same director back, which is almost unheard of for these kinds of movies. But Sam Mendes is super talented and what he did with Skyfall was very impressive.
And then there’s the Bourne movies, and a lot can be determined from looking at what’s happening with that series. Matt Damon had walked away from it after completing his trilogy. Every one of those movies was good, but he had just had enough. The fans and public disagreed. They wanted him back. And with that kind of demand, he is now coming back. There is a new Bourne film in production right now, to be released next year. The movie has just cast Tommy Lee Jones as the man who will most likely be hunting our guy down. The director is returning favorite Paul Greengrass (who helmed the last two Bourne movies.)
Now, it’s not all glitter and gold for these films. The Jeremy Renner Bourne spinoff film, The Bourne Legacy, was not very well liked. And that’s partially what brought Matt Damon back into the mix. But people tend to like Renner over all, based on the projects he picks (he is a major player in both the Mission Impossible univers as well as the Avengers films.) And now, what we are looking at in the future, is a crossover in the Bourne universe. My guess regarding this series is that after the new movie with Damon and Tommy Lee Jones, the next one features both Matt Damon and Renner. And if that does well, who knows, maybe Renner gets another shot at his own version and the series keeps going with both Damon and Renner headlining their own films.
There are many questions that reamin up in the air about all this, such as how long will Daniel Craig continue to play Bond (hopefully as long as possible,) and who will direct the new Mission Impossible movie that they begin working on next year. There’s been talk of getting director Christopher McQuarrie back, the man who directed this last film Rogue Nation, but I’m not in favor of that idea. Granted Rogue Nation was pretty great, but even still a trademark of the series has been that they get a new director for every movie, and I would love to see that keep going. There are two directors who I think should strongly be considered.
Those directors are Doug Liman and Bryan Singer. Liman recently worked with Tom Cruise on Edge of Tomorrow, which was great. It didn’t do very well at the box office, but word of mouth has been huge on this thing, and it is still generating buzz and catching on with the public. Even though it didn’t make much money, the movie is known to be so good and so well-liked that they are actually talking about making a sequel. So Liman, who is a good filmmaker (Swingers, Go), would be a nice addition.
The other one is Bryan Singer. This is the guy behind nearly all of the X-Men movies (4 of the 6.) He’s the guy who directed The Usual Suspects (while Christopher McQuarrie wrote it.) Singer has worked with Cruise before on the movie Valkyrie. Now, that’s important because it seems like Cruise wants to work with directors that he has had experience with in the past. Cruise is the producer of the series, and his trust in the filmmaker is very important. The list movie, Rogue Nation, was by McQuarrie, who Cruise had just worked with in Jack Reacher. And the last point for Singer is that he needs to do something besides X-Men that catches the publics attention. His other attempts (Superman Returns, Jack the Giant Slayer) have not done very well. Still, my money is on Liman, because of how well-regarded Edge of Tomorrow is. Not only by the public, but also, and more importantly, by Cruise.
It’s a very interesting time we are in right now with these spy movies. Of course we will never see a crossover between the main characters, and that’s probably a good thing. As long as they keep expanding their universes on their own, and as long as the movies keep coming out great, then the more movies they make, the better. That being said, there probably is no room for any new series to enter into the mix. This summer gives us a movie called The Man From U.N.C.L.E., which is in the same kind of genre, and I doubt it will do very well. But what those other movies are doing is tremendous. The Mission Impossible films keep adding a new character to the mix with every film (first Ving Rhames, then Simon Pegg, then Jeremy Renner, and now Alec Baldwin.) Based on how good these films have been, how great Skyfall was, and how the Bourne movies are getting back in the saddle with Matt Damon, there are more promising things to come.