March 2015 in Review

Thanks to short films and a week's holiday, I managed to up the count for this months films viewed. There was also finally finishing the Saw franchise, and managing to get through many films that I'd been looking forward to seeing. So, let's take a gander at what I viewed over the past March.

Whiplash (2013) - 3.5/5 - Before it became an Oscar-nominated film, Whiplash was an 18 minute short film. J.K Simmons is still marvellous in his award-winning role, while Damien Chazelle's changed only a few things from the script and the camera work in this scene. Johnny Simmons took on the role of Neiman before Miles Teller, and while serviceable, is nothing remarkable in the role. Also, the set looks rather dull with it's overuse of the colour white, thank goodness Chazelle changed that for the feature film.

Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short (rewatch) - 4/5 - Zack Snyder and Bruce Timm's animated collaboration takes a look at the Kryptonian superheroes long past, highlighting various storylines, villains, and depictions of him in other media. Granted, it's lacking in Tom Welling, Brandon Routh and Dean Cain, despite sneaking in Jimmy Olsen as Turtle Man and the Atari video game. But it remains a visual triumph, and a great tribute to one of the most popular superheroes of all time.

La Luna (rewatch) - 4.5/5 - A beautiful short that's bursting with charm, visually stunning, and excels in it's coming of age tale. One of Disney's best shorts.

The Black Mamba - 2/5 - Did Robert Rodriguez get the message this was a short film, not a Nike commercial? Either way, the result is bizarre, badly acted & boring.

Best film of the month and Best
film watched for the first time: Metropolis

The Most Dangerous Game - 2.5/5 - For a film that has a running time of just over an hour, it's astounding how the first 40 minutes manage to drag on. They build up to the reveal, which is VERY well known in pop culture, before reaching the actual game. Taking up the last 20 minutes, the scenes of the game at play are actually rather good. Fay Wray's only contribution is to give Joel McRea suspicions and somebody to talk to, while their two characters remain underdeveloped. Leslie Banks entertainingly hams it up as the antagonist, but there's unfortunately little about this film worth recommending.

Metropolis (1927) - 5/5 - Considering it's 88 years old, it's astounding how Metropolis has aged so well, and is just as relevant today as it was upon release, if not more. This is a film ahead of its time, masterfully directed, and truly one of the greatest films ever made.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) (rewatch) - 3.5/5 - The first Turtles film is certainly dated in places, with the ending hampered by an anticlimax, and the film unable to escape a feeling of cliché. But it's also a ton of fun to watch, elevated by great character interactions and fantastic effects from The Henson Company. It's astounding how this films method of bringing the turtles on screen in live action easily tops Jonathan Liebesman's efforts, despite coming out 24 years earlier, and having a lower budget by about $111.5 million.

Fifty Shades of Grey - 1.5/5 - Dakota Johnson's spirited performance and the great soundtrack are the only positives, in this overly dull flick. Maybe if Jamie Dornan wasn't so mechanical, maybe if the script didn't have such laughable lines, maybe if the sex scenes weren't so yawn worthy, some fun could be had. Oh well.

Best film seen in cinemas: Focus

Focus (2015) - 4/5 - The electric chemistry shared by Will Smith and Margot Robbie takes centre stage in this fun con flick.

Interstellar - 3.5/5 - Nolan's script needs a lot of work, especially in regards to 90% of the characters having little interesting to do. The ambition is clear, the visuals are stunning and the performances are definitely worth praising though.

Small Fry (2011) (rewatch) - 3.5/5 - A fun little short that allows us to spend time with the Toy Story stars, without disrupting their current status quo. The best bit is the support group for discarded toys, with inspired ideas for happy meal toys.

Partysaurus Rex - 3/5 - Rex takes centre stage in this fun, brightly coloured short, yet slight.

Best film rewatched: La Luna

Saw V - 2/5 - The franchise is clearly running on fumes, as things focus on the dull cat and mouse game between Strahm and Hoffman. Simultaneously, we're given dull traps that only exist to show people dying in gory ways, and boring characters to not give a damn about.

Saw VI - 1.5/5 - The penultimate chapter of this franchise is clearly trying to attempt social commentary, targeting the health care system. Unfortunately, this is too heavy handed to work. The poor writing's on show, as a previously deceased character makes a pointless return, and another character makes an obvious connection to Jigsaw.

Saw: The Final Chapter - 0.5/5 - Did the film-makers understand this was the (currently) last film in the Saw franchise? Because it seems they realise until the last few minutes, when they tacked on a half-assed attempt at a resolution on top of a generic franchise entry. Containing no compelling, no interesting twists and no satisfying resolution, this really is a wasted attempt at a franchise.

Starter for 10 - 3.5/5 - James McAvoy leads likable cast in humorous story that exudes charm, despite being rooted in predictability. Also, Cumberbatch gets a deserved punch to the face.

Biggest Disappointment: Interstellar

Young Adult - 4.5/5 - Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody team up once more, with better results than Juno. Charlize Theron is captivating, and her character of Mavis is a fascinating creation. A marvellous character study I wish to view many times over.

Rebel Without A Cause - 4/5 - Nicholas Ray exceptionally emphasizes the tribulations adolescents feel they must endure, while an assortment of fantastic performances give life to great characters.

Mad Max 2 - 5/5 - A phenomenal post-apocalypse film, and one of the best action films ever made.

What We Do In The Shadows - 4.5/5 - A fantastic mash-up, combining the mundane nature of flat-sharing, with vampires, comedy and a mockumentary format. One of the better recent comedies, with a script that grants fun twists on vampire tropes, and a fantastic assortment of characters.

Biggest surprise: Young Adult

Clown (2015) - 3/5 - This horror film may feel enslaved by predictable storytelling tropes, and even lacking in logic at times. But things are livened up by an unwillingness to hold back the punches, and the fantastic performances that are on show.

Punisher: War Zone - 2.5/5 - Was this meant to be stooped in gritty realism, or something more over the top? It feels stuck in the middle, undecided as to which would be better. Ray Stevenson's sincere performance and the final assault are positive moments, unlike the gonzo efforts by the villains,

Star Wars: TIE Fighter - 4.5/5 - Gorgeous animation and what's clearly hard work makes some of the best 7 minutes of 2015.

The Voices - 4.5/5 - An eccentric tale that's utterly delightful, packed with blackly hilarious moments, and brilliant moments of drama. Ryan Reynolds gives one of the best performances of his career, and Marjane Satrapi's direction is well handled.

Worst film of the month: Saw: The Final Chapter

James Bond: In Service of Nothing - 4/5 - A fantastic short which takes a gander at a Bond past his glory days. An interesting look at a corner we most likely will never see in live action.

The Punisher (2004) (rewatch) - 2/5 - Like many other comic-book films from the early 2000s, this is an overly generic flick that feels like little effort has been put into it.

The Divergent Series: Insurgent - 1/5 - 2014's Divergent was 2/3rds of a good film, which makes it a shame this isn't even a fraction of a good film.

India's Daughter - 4.5/5 - This documentary shines a light on the the gang-rape and murder on a moving bus in India, 2012. Through it, Leslee Udwin takes a gander at the gender politics and shocking rape culture mindset which is shared, especially by some defense lawyers. A tough watch, but an important one.

Best film of the month: Metropolis
Best film seen in cinemas: Focus
Best film watched for the first time: Metropolis
Best film rewatched: La Luna
Biggest Disappointment: Interstellar
Biggest Surprise: Young Adult
Worst film of the month: Saw: The Final Chapter

Number of films watched: 28