2015 Movies In Review: March / April

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As we continue our retrospective journey through the big movies of 2015, sharing what we thought of them at the time and what we think of them now, today we have a double helping from March and April.
All dates quoted are for UK releases.


Chappie (March 6th)
Chappie is a genuinely original sci-fi film. The basic premise of a robot who can think and feel may seem tired and overused, and it is to a degree, but what Chappie delivers is a very human story, unsurprising as it comes from Neill Blomkamp.

Much like he did with District 9, Blomkamp absolutely captures the human condition for those with a heart for outsiders, misfits, and the downtrodden. I can't recommend Chappie enough. I'd not been moved by a film quite as much in a long while, certainly not a science fiction one. If you're not close to tears by the finale then you're a harder man than I.


Home (March 20th)
As a parent of three young children I see a lot of animated features, and Home was one I was looking forward to. After all, a movie with Jim Parsons and Steve Martin in is bound to generate some good laughs, right? Errrrrrr, wrong!

Sure, there are a couple of laughs, but that's all, just a couple. Few and far between and nothing memorable. The plot is very basic, and has been done better in a hundred different animated features, and the whole movie really just plays out like an extended promotional video for Rihanna's music. If you like that, you're in for a treat.

I'd say it's one strictly for the kids, but mine thought it was "bland".


Cinderella (March 27th)
Here's one that surprised me a lot. Kenneth Branagh live action adaptation of Cinderella was certainly not on my 'must-watch' list, but it won me over almost instantly. It's perfectly cast, beautifully shot, and full of heart and soul.

I had issues with previous Disney animation-to-live-action movies, such as Maleficent and Alice In Wonderland, partly because they seemed unnecessarily dark and partly because neither of them were very good, but for Cinderella they, wisely, delivered a pretty much straight retelling of the story - minus the songs. Bonus!

Visually stunning and emotionally charged, thanks to it's pure simplicity Cinderella is a surprising triumph.


The Spongebob Movie: Sponge Out Of Water (March 27th)
First up I have to say that I love Spongebob Squarepants. I discovered the show through my kids a decade or so back - I had no choice, it was literally on ALL THE TIME. I took them to see the first movie on release in 2004 and laughed all the way through. Even now on re-watch that movie is still hysterical. But as kids grow up and they leave shows behind, I did too. And it's been some years since I've seen a new episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

The years have not been kind.

Actually, that's unfair, as kids from 2004 and kids from 2015 are entirely different and have different appeals. Clearly 2015 kids like their Spongebob served extra weird. And here they have a generous portion of weirdness. It's good that they've moved with the times (I guess?) but I can't help but feel that an awful lot of the situations in this film had done before in the early seasons of the TV show, and, for me anyway, were done far far better on the small screen.


Furious 7 (April 3rd)
Furious 7 is the biggest and boldest movie in the franchise to date, and quite possibly the best in the series, even after seven films nothing feels redundant. This movie does a great job at merging the past with the present and continues to wow the audience. It feels like a visit with old friends. There are a number of cheesy one liners as well as some extremely over the top action sequences, but it really plays out like its paying homage to the action films of old. It’s the first must see movie of the year, and easily the best so far.


Lost River (April 10th: Limited Release)
The outstanding comment that stuck with me from the debut at Cannes, was that Lost River had the quality of a student film. Having taught college script writing, and living by a reservoir that was flooded over an abandoned town, which is a completely common occurrence in midwestern America, I feel qualified to verify or deny the critic's comment of this work. I was afraid to find:
1. Sophomoric imagery. CHECK.
2. Stilted and awkward dialogue. CHECK.
3. A jarringly uneven and poorly written plot. CHECK
4. An untrackable, yet obviously indulgent, sound and editing. CHECK.
And finally,
5. Talented actors matching obviously uncomfortable community actors in a lowest common denominator cast. CHECK.
Lost River has absolutely no redeemable quality. Not as a film, script, star vehicle or showcase for Smith. It is an ego-driven psychodelic nightmare from a deluded Hollywood star. Yet like a train-wreck, I found myself hypnotized still trying to see what Matt Smith was so keen to do. I wanted to believe in actor Matt, not just the Eleventh Doctor, but clearly as a discerning actor, Smith failed. After seeing his earlier works, reading reviews of others including the London premiere of American Psycho, I don't think we can trust his artistic sense at all. And all this is even before he appears in either Terminator: Genysis or Pride And Prejudice And Zombies.


Avengers: Age of Ultron (April 23rd)
Did you ever have a Christmas as a small child where you were given so many presents at once that you couldn't properly appreciate them, and consequently only ever remembered one or two of those presents amongst the haze of wonderful but totally unnecessary accompaniments? Age of Ultron is pretty much like that. Thrilling, action-packed, entertaining and always flying the Marvel flag more proudly than ever before, it is definitely a great film. But boy, is it overstuffed. Next time, I really don't need 93462347623 Christmas presents... concentrate on those awesome Downey, Ruffalo, Evans and Johansson-shaped ones please.

Next Tuesday we look back at May and June 2015. In the meantime, did you watch any of these films? And what did you think of them? Let us know in the comments below.

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