2015 Movies In Review: May / June

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It's time to resume 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're firmly in blockbuster season as we look back at May and June 2015.
All dates quoted are for UK releases.

Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15th)

Tomorrowland (May 22nd)
Tomorrowland is a film about optimism and hope. It's safe to say we live in cynical (if not outright depressing) times where it seems that everything around us is out to kill us and that the world is going to hell. Tomorrowland calls back with nostalgia to a time when that wasn't the case and, using George Clooney's Frank Walker character, and shows us how we made the journey from optimistic futurism to the dystopian-fearing world we live in. Yet, through Britt Robertson's Casey, the film shows that maybe we can recover that hope and start moving again.

While Tomorrowland perhaps has its faults, the positives far outweigh them. From its performances, strong visuals and stirring score, it calls back to the future that might have been while also addressing the world that we live in now. It's a tale of optimism and hope with a message we ought to be embracing. One can only hope that we do.

San Andreas (May 29th)
As big-ass CGI eco-disaster movies go, this one was…OK. There’s a certain amount of plotting-by-numbers at work of course, but then that’s how you make this kind of movie.

Simply put, San Andreas is never going to win any big awards for acting or writing, and nor, to be honest, is it going to particularly wow the effects-junkies. But in terms of a popcorn-munching, date-taking, disengage-your-brain apocalyptic movie, you could do a lot worse.

Spy (June 5th)
Melissa McCarthy could read a telephone book and I’d find it funny – she’s a natural seller of mood, be it dramatic or comedic, and any scene she’s in, which is pretty much all of them, she rescues or elevates. It just feels as though, in this movie, she’s riding a comedy moped through quick-drying cement thrown at her by several co-stars, a less inspired script than was possible, and an edit of the movie that leaves the first third feeling languorous when it had no need to drag.

See Spy for McCarthy, for Alison Janney (who frankly can do no wrong, ever – I simply won’t hear it) as the CIA director, for Jude Law, and for Peter Serafinowicz as Italian agent Aldo, who’s surprisingly effective in delivering laughs up against McCarthy’s central performance. See it for the premise, and the hilarious end credits. And then look forward to McCarthy’s future work – did we mention Ghostbusters? – in the hope that Paul Feig delivers her a tighter script, and that her co-stars serve that script, rather than auditioning for a mainstream US audience to love them.

Jurassic World (June 12th)
We all know the basic premise – dino theme park, safe as safe as can be…till it isn’t, and the dinos break free and start eating the visitors, with a side order of nefarious trading as a sub-plot.

As far as that goes, little has changed in 22 years – it’s all present and if not exactly correct, then good solid popcorn-fodder. The dinosaurs are ridiculously believable – in fact in several cases, the dinosaurs are more believable than the humans, acting them off the screen. That should probably be a clue as to the movie’s strengths – and its weaknesses.

What’s ultimately missing from Jurassic World is genius. The original Jurassic Park was written by Michael Crichton, a writer who, however nerdy and intense his prose, had one of the key fictional ideas of his age – if Frankenstein was the new Prometheus legend of the 19th century, what would be the same legend in the late 20th century? The story of human brilliance and its downfall found a natural expression through the idea of genetic engineering and cloning. What’s more, the original was directed by Steven Spielberg, himself no slouch in the storytelling genius stakes. It was crammed with A-list talent too – Richard Attenborough as the avuncular Frankenstein in a dinosaur world, Sam Neil as the scientist torn between incredulity at what’s been done and wonder that he gets to see it, and Jeff Goldblum as the manic street preacher of chaos theory, calmly announcing that they’re all going to die. Jurassic World is very short on genius, but long on sickly, slickly rendered dinosaurs. Its message to women and girls is dubious in the extreme, its kids provide less of a reason to care if they get chomped by a dinosaur, its multi-millionaire owner is comparatively forgettable, and its corporate takeover schtick is entirely predictable. So really the only way in which 22 years has improved on the original Jurassic Park is in the dinosaurs. Watch it for them and you might feel you’ve got your moneysworth. Otherwise, you’re probably as well advised to get the original, genius-packed Jurassic Park on blu-ray – if you’re looking for a story and characters alongside your CGI dino-fun, you’ll have a better time.

Minions (June 26th)
There's a habit which is becoming more and more prevalent, especially when it comes to animated movies, that every single ounce of funny featured in a movie must be included in its trailer. To a degree Minions is just as guilty of this, but even though many a scene will already be ingrained into your mind thanks to the trailer seemingly on a repeat loop for 12 months prior to release, once placed in the context of the full 91 minutes you'll find yourself laughing out loud at the jokes once again.

I'd enjoyed Despicable Me. I thought Despicable Me 2 was funnier. Minions is even better. Is it the best animated feature of 2015? Easily.

On Thursday we look back at July and August 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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