2015: Sequels and What Not

By Christian DiMartino

Now, I surely missed out on a few of what I will be covering (such as Point BreakThe Transporter Refueled, etc.), but I’d say that I had a pretty firm grasp on the sequels and what not of 2015. This year, we saw the return of franchises we didn’t expect to see again, and thankfully, most of them were pretty damn good. Others, well, missed the mark.

This post is mainly to serve as a tease until I release my best list. These will also be in the order I saw them. So, happy reading.

Taken 3: My first film of 2015. Now, I admit I was blinded by my man love for Liam Neeson when I gave this movie a B- back in January. I have since owned up to the fact that it is a bad movie. But I still have trouble hating it. It definitely isn’t good, and it definitely is unnecessary, but at least its entertaining garbage (2 stars).

The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out of Water: I am 19 years old, and I still watch Spongebob Squarepants. Is that such a crime? I think not. Granted, the later episodes are meh, but I have to say that I laughed my ass off at this new outing, which is so ridiculous and bizarre, I thought someone had slipped me some LSD. If you’re willing to be tripped out, and you like the show, you understood the ride (3.5 stars).

Cinderella: A remake of the sorts, so it counts. They have adapted Disney classics into live action films, and none of them have really worked. But thanks to director Kenneth Branagh, a great cast that includes Cate Blanchett, and visuals that pop and dazzles the eyes, not to mention an adaptation that stays true, Cinderella is a pure charmer (3.5 stars).

Avengers: Age of Ultron: Most people prefer the original. I am not one of those people. Sure, this movie is overstuffed, but I had a good time. I also laughed a lot more than I should have. I am probably alone though (3.5 stars).

Fast & Furious 7: This absolutely ludicrous (starring Ludacris, of course) 7th outing is completely outrageous, but the ridiculous stunts are easy on the eyes. Plus, that Paul Walker tribute at the end was a nice tough (3 stars).

Mad Max: Fury Road: The best of the summer action films, Mad Max: Fury Road is a two hour knockout, and is one of the most impressive pieces of filmmaking you’ll see all year. It is light on plot, but this movie keeps your heart racing til the very end, and it features what should be an Oscar nominated performance from Charlize Theron as a boss named Furiosa. It’s great to have George Miller back in the saddle again (4 stars).

Hot Tub Time Machine 2: The first film was pretty funny. The second? Comedically desperate. Watching these actors try to keep this film afloat is utterly depressing, and the film tries so hard to recapture what worked the first time that the end result just feels lazy and tired (1 star).

Pitch Perfect 2: Wasn’t a giant fan of the original. People ripped this one a new one. I didn’t hate it. But maybe I am just blinded by my love for Hailee Steinfeld (2 stars).

Insidious: Chapter 3: I liked the first two (the second being more of a guilty pleasure), but luckily, Part 3 regains the heights of the original. I almost didn’t feel comfortable driving home alone that night (3 stars).

Jurassic World: Probably being too kind, but the first time I saw this one, I was in complete awe of what I was watching. It’s damn good fun. Flawed? Uh, yeah. But they sure put on a hell of a show. All I have to say is, check your brains at the door (3.5 stars).

Poltergeist: The original is fun. The remake? Well, not terrible. But I was surprisingly bored. In fact, I fell asleep. So, maybe I cannot fully judge. I’ll be fair then (2 stars).

Ted 2: Seth McFarlene’s Ted 2 got a lot of hate. Why? Basically, if you enjoyed the original, there isn’t that much to knock on here. It’s essentially the same thing (3 stars).

Terminator Genisys: Ugh, I left the theatre in anger. I hold the first two films close to my heart, and this movie takes what we know and love about them, dumbs it down, and craps on it. I was hoping Arnold Schwarzenegger could save it, but they just have him there as comic relief. This film is a joke to the franchise. It’s a kids movie. I like my Terminator movies lean and mean, not age appropriate (1 star).

Minions: I haven’t been the biggest fan of this series, but I didn’t hate this movie as much as some did. Granted, I was pretty wasted (2.5 stars).

Magic Mike XXL: The first movie might’ve been better had it not taken itself so seriously. This took that idea, and while occasionally funny, made it worse. Here is a film that gives us the basic premise, and then stalls until it lumbers its way to the finish line (2 stars).

Vacation: I didn’t hate this movie as much as I thought I would. It’s definitely a hit or miss affair, but for me, Ed Helms and Christina Applegate saved the day (2.5 stars).

Mission: Impossible- Rogue Nation: Tom Cruise once again shows us that he’s the man with this fifth entry, and his devotion to this franchise is something to admire. This film is a dazzler from it’s opening sequence until the very end. A true blast indeed (4 stars).

Fantastic Four: Oh good Christ, what a terrible movie. Everyone has given their two cents about it, and I don’t have the energy. Take their word. It blows (Zero stars).

Sinister 2: Another sequel that got a lot of hate, but I actually liked this one. Though it is unnecessary, it offers a few interesting ideas, and is, every so often, effectively disturbing (3 stars).

The Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials: I couldn’t tell you anything about the first one, and… yeah, I can’t tell you much about this one either. Something to do with zombies (2 stars).

Spectre: Again, another sequel that got hate. It isn’t quite Skyfall or Casino Royale, but as a long devoted fan of this series, I thought Sam Mendes, Daniel Craig and co. delivered the greats. Yes, there’s plotholes, but it’s dazzling. If this Craig’s last outing (and God willing it isn’t), he picked a good note to go out on (4 stars).

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2: Not the best in the series, but a fitting finale. Definitely could have used a re-write on that ending though (3 stars).

The Human Centipede 3 (Final Sequence): Quite possibly the year’s worst. A film so vile, ugly, pointless, and aimless, I can’t even see a sadist enjoying it. It’s so gross it’s irritating, and the cast and crew involved all need good, mental help (Zero stars).

CreedRocky Balboa was a fitting sendoff to this franchise, and Creed is an even more fitting sendoff. I loved this film. It’s one of those rare, magical sequels that doesn’t feel like it was made for cash sake, and it also features the best performance from Sylvester Stallone in decades. He has my vote for the Oscar. Not to mention, it’s just awesome, in its homages to the original and what not. This is a film that shouldn’t have worked, and yet works all too well (4 stars).

The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death: I liked the original film for what it was. But this is one of those sequels that never comes to life. It’s dull, and, not to mention, boring. January movies, man (1.5 stars).

Pan: Ooh, I knew this one was trouble when I walked in, so shame on me. Here is a film in which, well, not a lot works. Visually it hits the right notes, and Hugh Jackman is a little corny fun. But the movie itself isn’t fun. Plus, did we need a backstory for Peter Pan? I think not (1 star).

Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Ah man, what a knockout. Not the best in the series, but J.J. Abrams managed to pull off quite the magic act here. Yes, it’s a knockoff of A New Hope, but it’s so much fun catching up with old friends and being dazzled by the beautiful visuals that you really won’t care (3.5 stars).

Of course that was the last one. I obviously didn’t see everything. But since Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip falls into that category, I think you understand why.

 

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