November 2015 in Review

One more month left in 2015, and we have just over two weeks until the release of the brand new Star Wars film. It's hard to believe we're almost through the year, nor that we've reached the perfect time to view Christmas films. This past month has had me revisiting old favourites, as well as encountering fantastic examples of 2015 cinema. So, for the penultimate time this year, let's see what I viewed over the past November.

Rocky - 4.5/5 - Sylvester Stallone clearly put his all into Rocky, writing and acting well in getting the title character's story across. An aspiring boxer who can't sing or dance, feeling all he can offer is fighting. It's a simple underdog story, of Rocky trying to prove he's more than a heap of wasted potential, building to the fight.

My first time watching this, and I can see why it's so well loved.

Pulp Fiction [rewatch] - 5/5 - For my birthday, I decided to give this a watch. It resulted in me coming to a realisation. This is the greatest film I've seen in my life.

Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - A humorous special dedicated to DC Comics, delivering great Robot Chicken jokes, especially the ones aimed at Aquaman, while also managing to miss the mark quite a few times.

Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special II - Villains in Paradise - 2.5/5 - Creating a narrative over Villains going to the Beach, this is easily the weakest parody episode Robot Chicken has done yet. But worth it for Batman sailing through Starro.

Robot Chicken: DC Comics Special III - Magical Friendship [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - Still hits and misses, but worth it for seeing Batman be the butt of so many jokes (particularly the Birdman parody).

Best film of the month and
Best Film Rewatched: Pulp Fiction

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter - 1/5 - Silly premise played with a straight face, resulting in something dull with an overuse of CGI.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace [rewatch] - 2/5 -The first of the Star Wars prequels lacks promise, decent effects, competent writing and performances worth taking notice over.

Mulan [rewatch] - 4/5 - Mulan is led by one of Disney's more interesting heroines, as she defies what is expected of women to do what she believes is right. The animation is gorgeous to watch, while the mixture of comedy, action and character story are each well handled and balanced with one another.

But with the exception of "Make a man out of you", the songs aren't memorable. Li Shang could've been a bit more of a well rounded character, and not part of a forced romantic subplot. Despite these, Mulan is a darn good Disney flick worth the watch.

American Ultra - 4/5 - What a blast! Jesse Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart do marvellous work as their characters, while also selling a believable and sweet romance. Nima Nourizadeh puts some gorgeous shots on screen, offering more to the eyes than just the gleefully fun action that's full of energy. The films more interesting when focused on its leads, but remains a charming love story at its core.

Best film seen in cinemas and Best
film watched for the first time: Steve Jobs

Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone [rewatch] - 4/5 - Voldemort could've chucked baby Harry out of that window. The moral of this film: Don't try hard enough, and you'll end up stuck on the back of a bald man's head.

Monsters University [rewatch] - 4/5 - Watched for my little brothers birthday. Still great.

Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones [rewatch] - 2.5/5 - As I see it, this film had 3 major faults which dampened the picture as a whole:

  1. The Glaring uses of CG, taking us out of the film as we bear witness to obvious creatures and sets that are computer generated. The best example is probably Obi-Wan on Kamino
  2. Hayden Christiensen. The guy puts wooden acting into a role so infantile and whiny, I wondered if the dialogue was written with the intention of Jake Lloyd reading it out.
  3. The awful writing. From the bland handling of Count Dooku to that awful attempt at a romance, and especially Padmé brushing off Anakins admission of mass murdering the Tusken Raiders like it was nothing. Thank goodness George Lucas has pissed off away from this franchise.

Yet, I liked seeing the arena battle, and spending time with the Fetts. Plus, Ewan McGregor did well in the role of Obi-Wan.

Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - Hayden Christensen and Natalie Portman still can't deliver interesting performances or characters, while Anakin's development is rushed. Yet, the action is more interesting & the Sith uprising is engaging to watch.

Biggest disappointment: The Falling

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets [rewatch] - 3.5/5 - The sequel follows pretty much the same formula which the first did, with many plot points feeling overly familiar from the first. The difference is the acting is more noticably awkward, Emma Watson gets less to do and the effects are more polished. Still, we get great material involving Harry's fears of his past, and Kenneth Branagh is flamboyantly fab as Gilderoy Lockhart.

Birdman [rewatch] - 5/5 - A second viewing tells me what I already knew: Michael Keaton was more than deserving of that Best Actor Oscar.

The Wizard of Oz - 4.5/5 -It's hard to believe it's taken me this long to finally see this film. If I had to sum it up in one word, it'd be magical. The world is brought to life with gorgeous visuals and a stunning scope that remains impressive to this day. There are many lessons which ring true, while marvellous characters and fantastic songs help to bring the this wondrous world to life.

Steve Jobs - 5/5 - What do you get when you combine Aaron Sorkin's impeccable writing, Danny Boyle's vibrant direction, masterful acting on show and an overarching father/daughter relationship that reaches a heartfelt climax? One of 2015's best films.

The Wedding Ringer - 1.5/5 - A comedy lacking the laughs, with a surplus of gay panic, lazy physical humor and grandmother burning.

Biggest Surprise: American Ultra

Terminator Genisys - 0.5/5 - The once-popular franchise gets rebooted to the modern day, in a haphazard fashion that suffers from a piss poor script.

Cube - 4/5 - Vincenzo Natali offers a unique piece of horror, delivering some gripping thrills through this intriguing and inventive concept. But the characters could've benefited from stronger writing.

Lights Out (2013) - 3.5/5 - A simple and short tale, effectively using a basic concept on shared fears, delivering tense results. Sleep tight.

Brooklyn (2015) - 4.5/5 - A tale of the immigrant experience, felt all the more sincere by the deft direction, the sincere take on romance and the earnest performances. Saoirse Ronan is just fantastic.

And Now For Something Completely Different - 4/5 - My first experience with Monty Python, and they're certainly unique in their own way. The group handle their gags with a unique touch, delivering a wonderful array of jokes, even if it doesn't always hit the mark.

Worst film of the month: Terminator Genisys

Hard Eight - 4/5 - Paul Thomas Anderson's debut film shows flashes of brilliance, particularly within his character of Sydney and moments of writing throughout. The problem is how noticeably flimsy the plot is, and how unsatisfying an ending we got. But the acting can't be faulted, as Phillip Baker Hall owns every scene he appears in, and John C. Reilly does terrific work.

Donald and Pluto - 3.5/5 - A humorous & well animated short that's simple, fun and energetic, yet slight.

Carol (2015) - 5/5 - Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara deliver two of the years greatest performances, as they deliver a beautiful tale of romance between two utterly sympathetic characters. Todd Haynes has the dreamy visuals and beautiful score help entrance viewers, delivering one of the best romances in years.

The Falling (2015) - 2/5 - Whatever Carol Morley was attempting to achieve gets lost, resulting in something inscrutable which carries style over substance. Yet there's flashes of brilliance, such as the subliminal images which tell an entirely different story, and the performances are darn good.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars [rewatch] - 2.5/5 - An overlong TV episode, acting as the pilot for the Clone Wars TV series. Problem is the writing's a mess, the fights are dull and Ashoka is little more than an annoyance.

Best film of the month: Pulp Fiction
Best film seen in cinemas: Steve Jobs
Best film watched for the first time: Steve Jobs
Best film rewatched: Pulp Fiction
Biggest Disappointment: The Falling
Biggest Surprise: American Ultra
Worst film of the month: Terminator Genisys

Number of films watched: 28

Monthly average rating: 3.5