Somehow I though I had already written this post. I must have just said it OVER AND OVER again to my wife throughout 2015 and in the period in 2016 when you catch up on 2015 movies.
The terribadditude of 2015 movies extended across the entire spectrum of movies, from summer blockbusters to Oscar bait to comedies. The number of movies I could stomach for the entire running time was vanishingly small. A big part of this is that movies are getting longer on average with no commensurate increase in quality to earn that extra running time. I mean why was any Transformers movie longer than 2 hours, let alone 2 and a half hours like the last one? I thought summer movies were supposed to be short and pithy and yet they seem to be the worst offenders of increased length.
This lack of what I will call goodness density is particularly hard to swallow with the renaissance of television. I have, literally literally, a billion TV shows I want to try and for the most part the payoff of a good TV show far exceeds most movies and it does so in more manageable and well-paced chunks (the episode). It seems like movies are the only arena that sees all the trends towards everything being faster and more convenient and decided to make movies slower and more drawn-out.
What is particularly galling is that 2015 was also the first year where I felt completely at odds with both popular and critical opinion. There were many well-reviewed movies that turned off 30 minutes to an hour in. Here are some examples:
- Force Awakens – see my review. This movie was bad and I am severely disappointed so few people called it out.
- Hateful Eight – I love Tarantino for the most part and he has had a resurgence in quality with his last two films so I was looking forward to this one. Bloated doesn’t even begin to accurately describe this flaccid film. It seems like Tarantino thought he could just rely on his classic fast-paced and witty dialogue to carry a three hour plotless movie. Unfortunately, you actually have to write that good dialogue and Tarantino fell into the common trap of thinking that whatever he put down on paper was gold. Perhaps the biggest disappointment of the year.
- Jurassic World – Oh god, I can’t believe how much money this made. This was so stupid you could point out the idiocy in real-time. You should at least strive for coherency during the running time even if it falls apart in retrospect, but Jurassic World couldn’t even manage that. Every attempt at pathos was laughably bad. I can’t believe this did so well and was immediately greenlighted for a sequel.
- Sicario – I am surprised I don’t have a review for this. This movie was pile of steaming elephant crap dressed in a beautiful package. I think this was the biggest gap between my views and critical praise. Sicario is empty, with nothing interesting to say and the worst main character of the year, if not decade. I saw numerous articles praising Emily Blunt’s character and her portrayal of a strong female. DID THEY EVEN WATCH THE MOVIE? The entire thing was Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro saying stupid inscrutable shit and walking all over Emily Blunt and the Constitution. The one time she could have made a difference was at the end by shooting Del Toro in the back of the head but she chickens out like the weak person she is. Too bad because the film was executed marvelously even if it was in pursuit of vacuity.
- Ant Man/Age of Ultron – Really mediocre year for superhero movies in general, but these were both exceedingly mediocre.
- The Big Short – Combines the worst features of both a documentary and a typical feature film to produce something unwatchable. Go read one book that is better paced and more informative and skip this.
- The Revenant – Surprisingly OK, but I had low expectations after 2015 kept disappointing me. The main problem here is that it was too long and that it never really seemed to get me to buy into the REVENGE angle as strongly as it should have. Beautiful scenery though.
- Hunger Games – The first two films were fine. The third films (intentional) were utter dreck and revealed the shortcomings of the source material. Also how these films catapulted Jennifer Lawrence into the highest paid actress position I will never know. I find her abilities notably lacking and these movies did nothing to change that opinion.
- Spectre – This was horrible and boring and completely lacking cogency or momentum. What happened to this series from the amazing Casino Royale? I was also not a fan of Skyfall.
- Ex Machina – Hey people. GO READ A FREAKING BOOK FOR A CHANGE. This would be poor science fiction 50 years ago and yet you put it onto a movie screen and people praise it to no end.
- American Sniper – Are you kidding me? So boring even letting aside the obvious overblown jingoism.
There are 10 high profile movies in no particular order. There was a lot of smaller or mediocre stuff I watched that didn’t seem particularly galling or disappointing (Furious Seven, MI5, The Man from Uncle, Inside- Out, etc.). But while they may not have gotten a rise out of me, they didn’t really help lift the malaise.
So what was good last year?
- Kingsmen – Yeah, I am putting this above Mad Max as my favorite film of the year. Despite some failed, over-the-top humor from Samuel Jackson and a somewhat weak ending sequence this was my favorite film of the year. Funny and good fight sequences. This film put me into a Firthor (get it I combined Firth and furor).
- Mad Max – I am not a huge fan of the original trilogy beyond the setting so I was extremely surprised at how good this was. I can’t recall a movie more intense and it set a new bar for action sequences and chase scenes.
And that was really I would single out. Yeah, worst movie year ever.