Top 10 Most Popular Films for 2015

Behold, my first in a series of posts where we take a look at the best movies in cinematic history, with the first being the top 10 most popular films for 2015. Like every other year, these types of movies out of all the other released are the popcorn that attracts the masses all the way the theater. Of course, the good ones give you more than just stories. They’ll deliver memorable characters, throw ideas at you, or showcase so thought-provoking/emotionally driven moments. Or, some of them just do the action sequences at the best level of quality that you can’t help but be entertained and expressing gratitude for it.

So, without further ado, let’s get the ball with the top 10 most popular films for 2015 as per IMDB’s US box office database.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Synopsis

Three decades following the deaths of Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader, and fall the Galactic Empire, Rey, a scavenger, finds a BB-8 droid on Jakku, containing information regarding the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker who has disappeared. Alongside a rogue stormtrooper and a pair of infamous smugglers, Rey is thrown into the middle of a war between the Resistance, descended from the Rebel Alliance, and the rising legions of the First Order descended from the Empire.

Review

Now, before you may ask, yes, The Force Awakens broke an insane ton of box office records and yes, its plot feels like a retelling of the first film (not the prequel one!) in the franchise. But there are a couple of plot points that gave off an aura more potent than fond nostalgic remembrance, and J.J. Abrams’s film will no doubt bring back precious memories to the wonder and enjoyment you felt when you saw Star Wars for the first time. And let’s not forget the cast—both young and old—as they are spot-on in their scenes, led by newcomer Daisy Ridley, who is an absolute marvel.

Box Office

$936,662,225 (US) + $1,131,561,399 (Foreign) = $2,068,223,624 (Total)

Recommendation

The Force Awakens would definitely be the first Star Wars I actually enjoyed watching. This is due to the fact that of the dulled tone of the prequels, and the fact that the sci-fi genre was starting to grow a little stale pre-Sequel era.

Once more, Star Wars would be the one to draw us back into that revitalized genre, and once more proved how far creative imagination can go, far in the vast corners of the universe. True, that most of you would say that The Force Awakens is just a retelling of A New Hope, and I agree, but I respect that what J.J. Abrams and Disney did was to prove the relevancy of the franchise once more, and start anew a clean slate with its fans and audiences.

I would most DEFINITELY recommend this movie for fans who cherished the originals and hated the prequels, and for those who are new to the series. Truly, the force with strong with this one.

 

Jurassic World

Synopsis

Jurassic World has been running with unparalleled success for more than 10 years following the disaster that haunted the island over two decades ago. The park’s geneticists have once again broken scientific boundaries in order to raise attendance for the park, now facing a decline in visitors. They are convinced that the new attraction, but having crossed the line once again, the results prove to be much more devastating than bring in more people.

Review

“Guys, remember how Jurassic Park eventually became a really bad idea? Well, it’s been twenty freaking years, yet people still love dinosaurs, so let’s do the same thing. But this time ’round we’ll genetically engineer a mixed breed of dinosaur that has abilities that would make Superman raise a red flag.”

Yeah, in all aspects the main plot point of Jurassic World is stupid, especially in the sense that doing this sort of thing will never, ever, go well, but that doesn’t stop it from being stupidly entertaining. Watching humongous reptiles spill the blood of unsuspecting victims, watching the cliché military try to stop them, and even watching the reptiles fight among themselves is fun, and the movie has enough humor to maintain the enjoyment of the interactions too.

Box Office

$652,270,625 (US) + $1,019,442,583 (Foreign) = $1,671,713,208 (Total)

Recommendation

In all aspects, in spite of the box office success that this film has garnered, Jurassic World comes close at no. 2 as far as best Jurassic Park movies go. And yet in light of the weak plot story, this movie definitely delivered some badass moments, which I shall not voice out loud for the sake of those first-timers. And overall, I would say that this is not the best Jurassic Park movie, but it is still a decent enough flick to check out. So, this is still recommended.

 

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Synopsis

Tony Stark creates the Ultron Program to protect the world, but when the peacekeeping program becomes hostile, The Avengers go into action to try and defeat a virtually impossible enemy together. Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together once again to protect the world from global extinction.

Review

Avengers: Age of Ultron serves as an overstuffed but mostly satisfying sequel, reuniting its predecessor’s unwieldy cast with a few new additions and a worthy foe. For all of the extensive plot that went on for more than 2 hours, Age of Ultron still comes out as an okay sequel in the MCU.

Box Office

$459,005,868 (US) + $946,397,826 (Foreign) = $1,405,403,694 (Total)

Recommendation

Okay, not going to brag, but I am a hardcore Marvel fan (sorry DC). However, with that being said, I did not enjoy Age of Ultron that much as compared to the first Avengers movie. My initial thoughts on this movie were not great. To me, it is just another copy of Iron Man 3. There are problems which stick out at you repeatedly as the film’s story progresses.

The 2 biggest issues I have with the film is one, the tone (comedy) and two, the script/writing. Immediately I knew, from the first moment the heroes started cracking jokes about “language!”, the jokes were going to be pretty weak and lazy, and unsurprisingly the rest of the comedy in the film was just like that. It is said that good script writing transits into a good plot story. Unfortunately, that did not apply to this movie. I do not wish to say much since I reckon that most of you would fall asleep by the time I finish, but the plot, especially the third act, felt pretty much like a retelling of the first movie.

And yet for all of its flaws, it still turned out a decent enough film, and I was quite satisfied by how the ending moments of the film set the stage for future films of Phase 3. For Marvel fans who wished to see more mindless action, this would be good for you. But for DC fans and those that wanted a sequel that went a different direction, this would most definitely disappoint you. Again, it is still recommended.

 

Inside Out

Synopsis

Riley, an 11-year-old girl, is uprooted from her Minnesota life when her dad gets a job in San Francisco. Her emotions guide her through her new school, new people, and new life. But when an accident in her head involving Riley’s happy memories changes her entire outlook on her hew life, Joy and Sadness need to find her memories and return them to Headquarters before its too late.

Review

Pixar has built up a huge reputation for brilliant originality that when it makes a film deemed as only ‘okay,’ as with The Good Dinosaur, you feel rather disappointed. But that certainly wasn’t the reaction to Inside Out, which is certainly the studio’s most ambitious animated feature and easily one of its best.

Taking place within the mind of one Riley Anderson, whose emotional turmoil following her family’s move to San Francisco sends the literal personifications of Joy (Amy Poehler) and Sadness (Phyllis Smith) into the deepest and darkest depths of her mind, it’s an incredibly mature yet wondrous look at what makes us tick and how we grapple with an elusive truth —sadness is not only unavoidable, it’s a necessity— a point that most ‘grown-up’ movies would stray far from. But because this is from Pixar, and particularly from Pete Docter (Up), it’s also totally, well… joyful and bright, exciting, and funny.

Inside Out is simply a wonderful marvel, and such a fantastic original classic that hearkens back to some of Pixar’s best films. Pixar has raised the bar once again.

Box Office

$356,461,711 (US) + $501,149,463 (Foreign) = $857,611,174 (Total)

Recommendation

From me, this film gets a two thumbs up. And it is such a great and heart-warming film for families to sit down and watch together. Enough said. Recommended.

 

Fast & Furious 7

Synopsis

Dominic and his crew left the criminal mercenary life behind and had gone their separate ways after having defeated international terrorist Owen Shaw. However, Shaw’s brother, Deckard Shaw, is out for revenge. And to make matters worse, a Somalian terrorist called Jakarde is competing against a shadowy government official “Mr. Nobody” to steal “God’s Eye”, a computer terrorism program that can weaponize any technological device. Torretto must reunite with his team to stop Shaw and retrieve the God’s Eye program while being stuck in a power struggle between the terrorist and the United States government.

Review

If you thought you would never cry during a Fast & Furious movie, then seeing Furious 7 is a 100% must. The film ends with a heartfelt tribute to Paul Walker, who died in an off-set car accident during the movie’s production.

The movie beyond that? Definitely the best in the franchise. Stronger motivations, a more enjoyable villain, better action scenes; pretty much everything you want from a good Fast & Furious movie, and it delivers. And then it tops it off with a moving moment for Walker’s character – but, really, Walker himself. It’s great.

Box Office

$353,007,020 (US) + $1,163,038,891 (Foreign) = $1,516,045,911 (Total)

Recommendation

Now I will admit, I am not a huge Fast & Furious fan. I won’t say too much because of that, but judging from all the positive responses this film garnered, I would most definitely say, go check it out!

 

Minions

Synopsis

Since the origin of mankind, the minions are seeking out the most despicable master to serve. In 1968, Kevin, Stuart and Bob head to New York and Florida expecting to find a new boss while the rest of their tribe waits for them in Antarctica. They search for the evil Scarlet Overkill who travels to England with them and assigns the trio of minions to steal the Crown of the Queen. However, things do not go as planned.

Review

While it can be said that this film did insanely well at the box office, that success does not transit well into its less-substantive story telling. Aside from all the crazy shenanigans that these yellow miscreants pull off which starts to become much more annoying, the plot overall will leave most adults unsatisfied.

Box Office

$336,045,770(US) + $823,352,627 (Foreign) = $1,159,398,397 (Total)

Recommendation

No. There I said it. This movie gets a big, fat ‘NO!’ from me. Why? Well, this movie is definitive proof that Illumination is milking its cash cow dry. The first time I saw the Minions, I thought they were decent enough comedic sidekicks. But as time wore on with Despicable Me 2 and now Minions, they are just becoming a huge source of irritation.

Aside from all the craziest things they do best, the Minions get almost no character development outside of their cheerful and insanely optimistic personalities. And even though they are Illumination’s main mascots, they are still playing second fiddle to others characters like Gru and the Once-ler from The Lorax (Yes, I hated this movie enough to reference another bad Illumination film). There is a good reason why many people refer to Illumination Entertainment as “The House that Gru Built”.

 

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2

Synopsis

While Panem is ravaged by a war now total, Katniss and President Snow will fight for the last time. Katniss and her closest friends – Gale, Finnick, and Peeta – are sent on a mission to District 13: they will risk their lives trying to assassinate President Snow, who has vowed to destroy Katniss. The deadly traps, the enemies, and the heartbreaking choices that await Katniss will be far worse than anything she has ever faced in the arena …

Review

After three years of loyal service and as many films, the Hunger Games franchise adapted from the literary saga written by Suzanne Collins, this final episode focuses on the action, just to make up for the flat atmosphere of the first part of the revolt that could very well have held about twenty minutes (if it was not questioned about doing money, the producers would have been able to offer us an effective final of three hours).

This last film is certainly the most violent. The districts have risen and unified to bring down the Capitol. Katniss is on her side, determined to kill President Snow. In short, all Panem is at war and the number of victims is not decreasing.

Viewers who have not read the book will surely be surprised by the morbid nature of this episode, much more mature than the previous ones. The others will be less caught off guard, less shocked. If the atmosphere is heavy, humor allows you to relax between two literally deadly scenes. Thanks to the passive (even dispensable) duality of Gale and Peeta to get into Katniss’s heart and especially to Coin and Plutarch who are leading the rebellion behind the scenes (Julianne Moore is excellent as an interested and hypocritical leader while we’re at the both happy and sad to see Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last role).

Box Office

$281,723,902(US) + $371,704,359 (Foreign) = $653,428,261 (Total)

Recommendation

Despite all its good qualities, Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 is not the best movies in the franchise. The fault: it is difficult to attach to the characters. This fourth and final episode finally reinforces us in what we already knew, that Katniss and Prim are the only two who can tear us away. In addition to the talent of Jennifer Lawrence, once again perfect, Katniss and her little sister are the epicenters of the saga. Without Prim, no mocking Jay to lift the crowds. Suddenly the secondary characters are strongly neglected (Gale seems to be of no use while Haymitch disappears almost from the plot).

Mockingjay – Part 2 is the most mature Hunger Games movie without being the most thrilling (we would have done well an epilogue of nauseating miserable that denotes with the rest of the story). Only watch if you are into Jennifer Lawrence.

 

The Martian

Synopsis

During an expedition on Mars, astronaut Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is left for dead by his teammates, a storm that forced them to take off in an emergency. But Mark has survived and is now alone, with no way back on a hostile planet. He will have to use his intelligence and ingenuity to try to survive and find a way to contact Earth. At 225 million kilometers, NASA and scientists around the world are working tirelessly to save him, while his teammates are trying to organize a mission to recover at the risk of their lives.

Review

The Martian will not fail to attract comparisons with both Interstellar and Gravity with whom it shares a credible approach to space travel. Alone on Mars is by far the most optimistic film of the author of Blade Runner more accustomed to the dark and hopeless worlds, maybe the tragic death of his brother will have given him a desire for positivism. It is also his film that has the most heart without it hindering his intelligence. His protagonist Mark Whatley is a superhuman as he embodies the best in us courage, intelligence, humor, like any good superhero he has a power that allows him to get out of all situations: Science.

There are no antagonists in the film, not even the Mars planet, which Scott films beauty in magnificent contemplative interludes, but men and women who collaborate to solve the series of problems that arise for them to bring alive this “Martian”, trapped 200 million km away from Earth. The film focuses on science and fiction, anticipating space travel for a few years but relying on practical applications of current science as opposed to extrapolations of Interstellar astrophysics theories.

Despite the title, The Martian is not a one-man show as it is endowed with an impressive cast that consists of on the one hand NASA teams on the ground (Jeff Daniels director of the institution, Chiwetel Ejiofor responsible of the flights program to Mars, Kristen Wiig in charge of public relations) and the other the crew of Hermes during his journey back to Earth led by Captain Lewis (Jessica Chastain) and in which we find Michael Pena and Kate Mara. The film even allows third roles characters of Donald Glover (Community) in trajectory specialist or Benedict Wong (Sunshine, Moon) as an engineer to shine.

Box Office

$228,433,663(US) + $401,728,227 (Foreign) = $630,161,890 (Total)

Recommendation

The Martian is both a breathtaking, visually sublime adventure and an optimistic celebration of the ingenuity of the human spirit driven by the charisma of Matt Damon and the unique eye of a great Ridley Scott.

The character of Watney is very endearing facing insurmountable obstacles, watched by desperation at every step but never succumbing to it. He retains a determination and an irreverent sense of humor, a certain taste for the fanfare that defuses the solemnity of his exploits. Matt Damon manages to “sell” long monologues on thermodynamics, botany, the hexadecimal system and even Donna Summer (he is stuck with a collection of disco tubes), without ever falling into the performance and is also comfortable in the pathos than in the punchlines. He alone makes this epic tale of survival something intimate and human, we are with him on Mars – we feel each of his successes and his setbacks as ours. Just don’t tell Jimmy Kimmel that.y

Thoroughly recommended.

 

Cinderella

 

Synopsis

When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her scheming step-sisters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

Review

The 2015 version of a beloved Disney classic comes to exploit the Hollywood tendency to make something new with the old: similar to Alice in WonderlandSnow White and the Huntsman, Oz the Great and Powerful and Jack the Giant Slayer. Everything is good to find the narrative fantasy of the tales of yesteryear which we consider that they are only reflections of times that can generate as many clones as there are new generations.

The success in Disney’s 2014 film Maleficent, retold for fans of Sleeping Beauty, has proven the power of seduction of these purely mercantile companies, where the ease of crisscrossing the fields of the known makes it now impossible to take risks around new characters, foreigners of the sphere of tolerance of an ungrateful generation towards all that is too new.

The surprise of the modern take of Cinderella lies essentially in the commitment of Kenneth Branagh to the controls of this expensive undertaking. The Shakespearian star of the 90s, who was adored for his comedies of the verb, Much noise for nothing or Peter’s Friends, continues to move away from the nobility of his original art, essentially dramatic, to run the studios: after Thor and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, he comes back to confront the special effects and the action in this feminine tale.

Box Office

$201,151,353(US) + $342,363,000 (Foreign) = $543,514,353 (Total)

Recommendation

Yes, another Disney live-action remake based on a classic animated film… I am sure by now that most Disney fans are getting pretty tired of seeing their childhood getting destroyed by the company that created them in the first place. But in my opinion, out of all the remakes Disney has made, this is probably one of the ones I was kind of okay with. The story has been updated to service to a 21st Century audience, and the main characters including the Prince, have even better character development than ever before.

But there’s a catch to that. The main villain of the film, Lady Tremaine, has been toned down. No longer is she a repressive, overbearing and fearful woman that both Cinderella and the audience have come to love and fear – she has been something of a more sympathetic character, a common trope for modern Disney Villains. The songs have also noticeably been removed from the main story, and all shifted to the end credits, something that a couple of Disney fans have taken issues with.

And yet for all of that, I still came out of the theatre quite satisfied. It left me thinking to myself “Well movie, you tried something different!”

 

Spectre

Synopsis

A cryptic message from the past leads James Bond on a very personal mission to Mexico City and then to Rome, where he meets Lucia Sciarra, the beautiful widow of a famous criminal. Bond manages to infiltrate a secret meeting revealing a formidable organization called Spectrum. Meanwhile, in London, Max Denbigh, the new director of the Center for National Security, questions Bond’s actions and the very existence of MI6.

Bond persuades Moneypenny and Q to secretly help him locate Madeleine Swann, the daughter of her old enemy, Mr. White, who could hold the means to destroy Spectrum. Killer girl, Madeleine understands Bond better than anyone … Approaching the heart of Specter, Bond will discover that there may be a terrible link between him and the mysterious enemy he tracks …

Review

No one will be able to say the opposite if it is indeed a cinematographic legend which knew how to continue and each time to try to renew itself decade after decade it is undoubtedly that of James Bond. After Skyfall here Spectre, the new 007. Once again the franchise put on a visual outbidding to mark the spirits. Yet we had read here and there that this new Bond was darker, wiser, even for some very different. I personally found it much more eye-catching and dense than those last two predecessors (Royal Casino still being my favorite with Daniel Craig in the costume of the British secret agent).

From the intro sequence, the tone is given. The collapse of a building in the historic city center, acrobatics by helicopter in front of a crowd of thousands of anonymous, 007 does not save, it is the least we can say. And then the scenario is set up. A secret organization, muscular car chase, state-of-the-art gadgets, James Bond did not fail his reputation, including that of slaughterer. Only the final leaves us a little on our hunger I find.

Box Office

$200,074,609(US) + $680,600,000 (Foreign) = $880,674,609 (Total)

Recommendation

We can therefore very honestly salute Spectre as a success, which in the end is fully up to our expectations (the trailer broadcast in theaters did not pay tribute at all). It remains to be seen if Mr. Craig will resume a fifth time of service in the shoes of the agent 007. Not so sure, but who knows … everything is possible with James. Fully recommended.

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