– by Tom Munday
2015 is a battleground for blockbusters and awards-hungry monsters aching to be recognized. The bigger-name features (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Star Wars) don’t need help. They will make a ton of money even if their respective studios are hacked into and exposed from the inside out (too easy, Sony). However, this year’s slightly smaller action/superhero flicks need good reviews to get them over the line. The Fantastic Four and Ant-man, in particular, are struggling to push through atrocious production delays and behind-the-scenes controversies. Despite these hidden gems/massive flops, we got the latest, Paul Walker-honouring Fast & Furious installment, Brad Bird’s latest Tomorrowland, and Mad Max looking less like Mel Gibson and more like Tom Hardy. 2015: could go either way, really.
10. Terminator Genysis
The Terminator franchise’s methodology, for some reason, follows one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best one-liners to a tee: “I’ll be back”. Oh boy, has it come back again…and again…and again. Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines and Terminator: Salvation lacked the James Cameron-helmed originals’ style and verve. Directed by Alan Taylor, Terminator Genysis is shaking this broken series up yet again. Jai Courtney, Jason Clark, and Emilia Clarke are strong additions to the franchise as the franchise’s most important characters. However, Schwarzenegger’s aura is back…for better or worse. The older T-800, along with the reboot/remake/thing will reset the clock on this blasted creation.
9. Furious 7
Furious 7’s horrific productions schedule issues could potentially send this long-standing franchise rolling off a cliff. The tragic death of leading man Paul Walker tied James Wan’s first action feature into a nigh-unfixable knot. However, Vin Diesel and co. have come out the other side raring to rev engines and burn rubber. Inexplicably, the stunts seem even bigger now. The trailer’s car/parachute sequence and truck-flip set-piece, though echoing moments from the first few movies, seem to be taking this installment in the right direction. In addition, the multi-ethnic cast looks set to expand with the inclusions of Tony Jaa and Djimon Hounsou. This tearful installment will hopefully give Walker the send off he deserves.
8. Mission: Impossible 5
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol was one of the past decade’s most inventive and exciting blockbusters. The fusion of up-beat direction, lightweight story-telling, and high-rise stunts set the precedent for spy flicks everywhere. Tom Cruise, Simon Pegg, and Jeremy Renner are back for one more go-around. Christopher McQuarrie, writer/director of Tom Cruise vehicle Jack Reacher, is on board to set up more Cruise badassery. The shooting schedule gave us hope, with the cast and crew appearing happy and contented with the production. Hopefully, the triple-threat of Mission Impossible 3, Ghost Protocol, and this one will wash the bitter tastes of the first two out of our mouths.
Tomorrowland’s marketing campaign, though likely to ramp up over the next few months, has been largely subdued. The one teaser trailer we’ve seen opens our eyes to a whole new stratosphere. Set in an anarchic modern world, our lead character looks set to become humanity’s shining hope. Despite the juvenile delinquent nature, the girl – played by newcomer Britt Robertson – unlocks the secrets to discovering imaginative dreamscapes and chatting with George Clooney. Brad Bird, fresh off Ghost Protocol’s undeniable success, appears to be fusing his animation and live action sensibilities. This seemingly fluid and thought-provoking creation could be the surprise hit of 2015. Let’s hope it’s not another Andrew Stanton/John Carter situation!
6. Jurassic World
Coming 22 years after the immaculate 1993 original, and 14 years after the so-so Jurassic Park 3, Jurassic World could potentially become this year’s biggest misfire. The premise appears to be a laughably questionable rehash of concepts we’ve seen countless times before. Why create a park after the events of the first three? Why send your children there alone? Why is security still so lackluster? The characters, like the studios, should really be leaving these creatures alone. Steven Spielberg’s charming touch is completely absent, making way for a first-time blockbuster filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed), to make spin dinosaur dung into piles of money and future opportunities for ‘action hero’ Chris Pratt.
5. Mad Max: Fury Road
It’s a remarkable sight seeing a trailer that makes everyone in a cinema shut-up and glue their eyes to the screen. The second Mad Max: Fury Road trailer delivered is fair share of funny lines, kick-ass action beats, and near-bald Charlize Theron. Hopefully, the trailer refrained from giving away the movie’s best parts. George Miller, having to move production from Australia to Namibia due to set difficulties, has fought the good fight getting this long-awaited fourth installment to the big screen. Tom Hardy, one of modern cinema’s most flexible and confronting actors, takes hold of the wheel for what is, hopefully, the match sparking a new, full-blooded franchise.
Frustratingly so, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 felt like a deli owner breaking a Snickers in half, giving you one half, and expecting you to paying double the price for both pieces. In this case, you can’t snatch the other half before running away. Despite my odd comparison, the final installment sees our favourite Young Adult hero Katniss Everdeen fight to save two charisma-free blokes. This action-heavy ‘trilogy’ capper will, hopefully, put the bow and arrow back in Katniss’ hands and get the job done. Overcoming Suzanne Collins’ supposedly horrific material, director Francis Lawrence will have to bring Catching Fire’s magic back for one last hurrah.
Brutally punished by the Sony hacking scandal, Spectre’s production schedule has been, ahem, shaken and stirred. Supposedly, this $300 million installment, in the longest running film franchise, is the most expensive one yet. Despite the bloated price tag, Spectre could indeed replicate Skyfall’s record-breaking success. Director Sam Mendes is back for one last smackdown, while Daniel Craig’s time as Bond may end after this installment’s release. However, the supporting cast is chock-a-block with surprising choices. Christoph Waltz is on board as formidable Bond Villain Blofeld (let’s hope it’s not another Star Trek into Darkness situation!). In addition, 50-year-old Monica Belucci is now the oldest bond girl to date.
2. The Avengers: Age of Ultron
The team at Marvel Studios has created the ultimate mountain to climb over: to top by-far their best movie to date. With two phases under its belt, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has exhausted a lot of people on the prospect of more superhero crossover flicks. Soon, Captain America and Iron Man will turn on each other in the film version of Marvel’s famous Civil War story. For now, however, they have to contend with one of Tony Stark’s ‘greatest’ creations. Ultron, voiced commandingly by James Spader, is a blood-thirsty cyborg working for himself. The Pinocchio “No Strings on Me” vibe, given off by its “dark and gritty” trailers, could give weight this antagonist. However, the inclusion of more characters could send Age of Ultron into the too-many-spinning plates pit of doom.
1. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Shockingly so, 1989 was the last time anyone was happy with something George Lucas was associated with. After the Prequel trilogy’s complete critical hammering, Star Trek director J. J. Abrams hopes to restore the fond, light-heated glow the original Star Wars film delivered. The Force Awakens’ 30-second teaser became the most watched trailer in movie history. For weeks, everyone was buzzing about those few seconds of footage than anything else released last year. In fact, websites everywhere released detailed analyses of this thirty-second joy-fest. The cast of young, British talent, including Domhnall Gleeson and John Boyega, appears to be just one of several intriguing turns this production has taken. Hmm, could it ever be as good as Empire Strikes Back though?
Jupiter Ascending, Kingsman: the Secret Service, Chappie, Ted 2, Spy, Entourage, Ant-man, Trainwreck, Pan, Fantastic Four, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, Triple Nine, The Walk, Black Mass, London Has Fallen, Inside Out, The Good Dinosaur