2015 Media in Review: All the movies

It’s time to take a look at all the movies I watched in 2015, and for the first time since I started tracking, the numbers were so low I couldn’t justify not combining movies at the theater and movies streamed/on dvd. With that in mind, I’ve decided to do things a little differently this year, and make the bulk of this post Top 10 things I’m Glad I Watched in 2015.

10. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

ferngully

Sure, the animation isn’t always great, and it’s a pretty preachy with its message of being good stewards for the planet, but I’ve always loved it. As I’ve grown up, Tim Curry’s pollution-monster Hexxus doesn’t scare the bejeezus out of me anymore and is instead delightfully creepy. And now I can also appreciate the steps it takes to separate itself from the typical three-day love story of Disney’s animated movies. Plus, Robin Williams and Christian Slater are two people I’ll probably never tire of.

9. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982)

I love the last third of this movie. Everything from the moment Spock decides the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few (or the one) is made of gold. Granted, a little bit of gold got some cheese dust on it with Kirk’s infamous “KHAAAAAAN!!!” yell, but it’s gold nonetheless, and more than redeemed with his final words. I’d rank it higher, but I never really got into the original series, and while I never felt lost watching this, I think it would have had more of an impact on me if I had more of that context.

8. Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984)

I know, I’m going to catch some flack for prioritizing this above its predecessor, but I always felt like all I really needed to know about this movie is what happened in the last one. I like the Enterprise heist, Miracle-Gro Spock, the results of the Spock/McCoy mindmeld and everything with Kirk’s kid. There are probably all kinds of metrics by which you could say “Khan” was the objectively better movie, but “Search for Spock” is just fun on a level “Khan” wasn’t. And some years, that’s all that matters.

7. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

I liked this movie a lot. It was funny where I expected it to be funny, exciting where I expected it to be exciting, and poignant — you guessed it — where I expected it to be poignant. For as much as I love the doomed Natasha/Bruce relationship,  Clint’s family and the snarkiness of Ultron, it all felt a little samey to me. Sure, there was new stuff, but it didn’t really *feel* new. Definitely worth watching (and watching again, and probably buying at some point), but far from my favorite thing.

6. Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance (2014)

Well, talk about being different. I can admit that most of why I wanted to see this was to see Michael Keaton playing an actor haunted by his blockbuster  Birdman role. The comparison between Birdman and Batman was too great to ignore. But I also really enjoyed the story of Riggin battling his demons while trying to make himself relevant in his Broadway play, for which we get a nice behind-the-scenes look. That said, I ended up feeling like I wasn’t quite smart enough for Birdman. It was ultimately pretty surreal, and I’m still not sure what it’s ending was meant to convey.

5. Terminator Genisys (2015)

Terminator Genisys got way more hate than I think it deserved, and if I may anthropomorphize for five seconds, I like to imagine it walking through the sea critics like this:

Aside from some deliberate information gaps and the liquid metal effect looking less realistic than it did 24 years ago, I’ve got no real beef with this movie. It’s another that I’ve written about extensively, so suffice to say that I was enamored by Pops and his relationship with Sarah, I liked the characterization for Sarah and Kyle as people who carried different baggage and had different circumstances than the original, and while I was iffy on them at first, I think the handful of shot-for-shot redos of The Terminator were more loving homage than rip-off. And I liked the idea of the villain; I just wish it hadn’t been spoiled in the damn trailer.

4. Ant-Man (2015)

I’ve also written about Ant-Man, and I feel pretty vindicated in my opinion that there should definitely be a sequel, now that the MCU slate has been reshuffled to allow for an unplanned one. Ant-Man made it so high on my list because while it still felt fun and exciting and ha a great cast like the other Marvel movies, it’s smaller scale (no pun intended) gave it a fresher feel.

3. Jurassic World (2015)

Jurassic-World-Poster-OfficialSure, you can complain about Bryce Dallas Howard running through the woods in high heels (and even I’ve complained about her outrunning a T-Rex for any length of time), but it’s kind of missing the forest for the trees. Jurassic World, while not as good as Jurassic Park, certainly felt like a return to good form after sequels that weren’t exactly up to snuff. And I thought it’s characters, while maybe a little flat on paper, were made dynamic through the sheer force of good performances.

2. Brian’s Song (2001)

I’ve not seen the original 1971 version that starred Billy Dee Williams and James Caan as Gale Sayers and Brian Piccolo, two Chicago Bears players who went from rivals to the best of friends while running through racial barriers, and I hear it goes more into the football aspect of their story. But the remake, starring Mekhi Phifer and Sean Maher, put a lot of focus on Piccolo’s personal battles with cancer, and was – surprisingly – exactly what I needed, even if I never watch it again.

My family had a cancer scare in late 2014 that thankfully turned out well in early 2015, but it took months of seeing this on my Netflix dash afterward before I could bring myself to watch it. It was tremendously sad and incredibly moving and gave me the opportunity for a good cry I didn’t even know I needed.

1.  Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

star wars tfa

For people who know me, this was probably predictable. I loved this movie. I know there were a lot of parallels to the original trilogy, and that bothered a lot of people, but I think they were a nice reminder of what Star Wars is all about and set the stage to go in different directions as the new trilogy progresses.

I loved the new characters and relished seeing Han, Leia and Luke again. In fact, while I think Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Oscar Isaac will be wonderful torchbearers for Star Wars,  I don’t think it’s at all a criticism to say Harrison Ford brought Han Solo back to life and carried this movie to a finish line made of money. Sure, it’s not a movie without flaws, and eventually I’ll do a post about that, but I left the theater nothing short of utterly satisfied and excited for Episode 8.

Getting nerdy with numbers

I track four stats when tracking movies: the month I watched it, the year released, genre, and whether I’ve seen it before. Of the 23 movies I watched in 2015 (down from 2014’s 36 and 2013’s 47), 11 were repeats. That’s nearly half (47 percent) and mostly speaks to the staying power of 90s movies and Star Trek, for which I watched all six of the TOS movies.

Genre got a little tricky because of movies that could fit several. Ultimately, the only things I classified as scifi, for instance, were the Star Trek movies. Because, look, as much as I loved Jurassic World and Terminator Genisys, they were far more action/adventure than science. But even without their inclusion, science fiction still lead the list with 6 (26 percent), followed by 4 for action/adventure (17 percent), 3 each for drama and sports movies (13 percent), 2 superhero movies (8 percent), and 2 comedies/rom-coms, and one each for animated, horror, and documentary (4 percent).

As for release date, the bulk (9, or 29 percent) were released in the past five years, with a total of 11 (47 percent) in the past decade. That compares to 5 (21 percent) in the 90s, 4 (17 percent) in the 80s, and one lonely 70s film.

July was my most active month at the theater (I went twice). Coincidentally, it was preceded by my most active month of DVD/streaming with four movies in June.

The Master List

Here’s the full breakdown. Italicized movies were repeats, and I’ve put a link for my “Devour” review.

MOVIES AT THEATER

May
1. Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), superhero

June
2. Jurassic World (2015), Adventure

July
3. Terminator Genisys (2015), action
4. Ant-Man (2015), superhero

December
5. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015), adventure

MOVIES ON DVD/STREAMING
January
1. Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), scifi

February
2. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan (1982), scifi
3. Star Trek: The Search for Spock (1984), scifi
4. Star Trek: The Voyage Home
(1986), scifi

April
5. Birdman (2014), drama
6. Timer (2009), romantic comedy

May
7. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 (2015), comedy

June
8. Tracers (2015), action
9. Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989), scifi
10. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992), animated
11. Brian’s Song (2001), drama

August
12. Conspiracy Theory (1997), drama

September
13. Devour (2005), horror

October
14. Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), scifi
15. Varsity Blues (1999), sports

November
16. Trek Nation (2011), documentary
17. Necessary Roughness (1991), sports

December
18. Hard Ball (2001), sports

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