Summer blockbuster season is pretty much over for 2015 and there were some monster films released this year. Jurassic World dominated with Avengers: Age of Ultron having a solid run as well. We saw animated hits like Minions and Inside Out and the decline of comedies (Ted 2, Vacation, Pixels not making anywhere near predictions). There were some gigantic flops and some surprises, but overall, Summer 2015 was rather subpar as a whole. There were a lot of movies to like, not too many to love. In this write-up, Jaskee Hickman and Ken Murray talk about that as they give you their thoughts on the Summer of 2015 starting with the month of May.
Ken – I struggled with this and Best Film for days. Lots of movies I liked, but really no clear cut winner. Avengers: Age of Ultron is good, but not as good as the original. Ant-Man is a lot of fun, but favorite? I guess I’m going with Jurassic World here. I saw it with two friends and the experience of seeing it with them was my favorite experience at the theater so Jurassic World is the pick.
Jaskee – I didn’t think I’d be saying this before the summer began, but it turns out that Straight Outta Compton is actually my favorite movie of the season. Although I wanted it to be good and succeed, I figured there was a great chance that it would fall completely flat. Instead we get a well acted biopic that manages to be completely entertaining while also looking at some meaningful topics such as police brutality and racial profiling.
Ken – You have no idea how tough this is for me. Last summer’s pick Boyhood was my BEST film of the year, this summer there’s not one film that stands out like that. Shaun the Sheep is adorable, A Lego Brickumentary is great, but neither are quite BEST FILM picks. BEST means something to me so I guess I’m going with the best written, best acted film of the summer, The End of the Tour. Jason Segel’s performance gives it the edge.
Jaskee – I had a problem coming up with this one as well, but I ultimately chose my favorite film of this summer as the best film of the summer. That’s obviously Straight Outta Compton. The bottom line is that it’s a well put together film that’s easy to follow and gives you just about every major thing you would want and expect from a movie like this. Structurally and cinematically, there simply isn’t too much to complain about.
Ken – It’s easy to put Fantastic Four here because the movie IS as bad as they say, but only one movie this summer made me walk out. I’m gonna get skewered for this, but Trainwreck drove me nuts. I’m not going to root for a miserable person whose life sucks because of what she does. It did nothing for me despite a director who I like and supporting cast of many people I’m big fans of.
Jaskee – Although The Gallows, Trainwreck and Fantastic Four would all definitely be in my bottom ten of the summer (and year), I’m going to select Hitman: Agent 47 as the worst film. Not only did it not make any sense, it turned out to be a boring movie that sucked in every way imaginable after the opening action scene. I didn’t have high expectations for it, but it turned out to be even worse than I could have anticipated.
Ken – Mad Max: Fury Road. I know critics loved this film, but I walked out afterwards wondering when I was going to see Mad Max. Is it a post apocalyptic film? Yes, clearly. Is Charlize Theron good in it? Yes again. Is it a Mad Max film? Nope.
Jaskee – While I too expected more from the likes Fury Road or even Southpaw, Dope disappointed me more than any other film this summer. This also got a ton of praise from critics, but it suffers from a lack of structure and it’s completely disingenuous. As I predicted, it failed to get anyone’s attention and it faded away pretty quickly. Because of that, I can just wipe it from my mind and pretend that it never happened.
Ken – Straight Outta Compton. I figured I’d like the film because I grew up with the group, but I expected a way more serious/racially charged/political film. It’s genuinely funny and I had fun watching it. The casting was perfect as well.
Jaskee – It’s Amy for me. The reasons behind my surprise comes from the fact that I was never a fan of Amy Winehouse at any point and thought that watching a documentary that’s over two hours would be dreadful. Thankfully, neither one of those hindered my experience. It’s an engaging piece that is guaranteed to be regarded as one of the absolute best documentaries of the year.
Best “Indie” Film:
Ken – The Stanford Prison Experiment. Another category I struggled with compared to last year. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this film, but last summer we got Chef, Cavalry, The One I Love and more. The Stanford Prison Experiment will drive you insane watching it because of the psychological elements of the film and will have you questioning how long you’d survive the experiment.
Jaskee – I’ll show Infinitely Polar Bear some respect here. While it won’t be viewed as the kind of film with the potential to receive any accolades during the 2015 awards season, it’s a fun movie about a serious issue that many can and will enjoy if they ever see it. It’s also only 88 minutes, so it wouldn’t hurt just to check it out when you can.
Ken – Tomorrowland. People HATED this movie, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s a throwback type film like The Rocketeer or The Iron Giant and a movie Walt Disney would have loved himself. I’m also throwing Pixels in here because it’s fun. Yeah you read that right Pixels. Don’t believe all the hate.
Jaskee – I thought about picking The Gift as my sleeper pick, but I’m going with Samba here since it’s a better movie in my opinion. I’m also picking it, because it received a mixed reaction from the few critics who saw it. From my perspective, this is an entertaining French film that can be described as something with an odd, positive vibe mainly due to its characters and unconventional ending.
Movie You Missed But Wish You Saw:
Ken – Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation. I like most Tom Cruise films and like the MI franchise. I know this is a film I should see on the big screen, but just wasn’t able to catch it yet.
Jaskee – I saw just about every movie that needed to be seen this summer, so this one was kind of tough to choose. Out of the few that I didn’t see, I’ll go with The Tribe (Plemya). I’ve heard nothing but positive things about this Ukrainian feature. With its odd premise and approach to filmmaking, it certainly sounds like something to look out for.
Biggest Shocker at the Box Office (Good or Bad):
Ken – Jurassic World’s box office dominance is way more than I expected. I knew it would be big, but it’s one of the all time biggest films now. Chris Pratt is the king of the box office. I’m also really sad at the fact that we take life too seriously and comedies aren’t seen anymore.
Jaskee – I agree with Ken on Jurassic World being the biggest box office shocker of the summer. Along with Furious 7, it was one of the two movies that I wanted to see the most at the start of the year, but it looks like there were plenty of others who felt at least as strongly about it as I did.