Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Top 11 Critical Disagreements Of 2015



As we welcome in the New Year, it’s time for what I am now deciding is an annual tradition around these parts: Lists! To kick off this set of lists, we’re going to take a look at just how much of a special friggin’ snowflake I am and see the top 11 films that I didn’t see eye-to-eye with most critics on from 2015. I didn’t really think that I’d end up with enough to create another list after last time, but turns out that I was wrong.

Once again, same rules from last year apply: I am not going to include any films that have divided critics already; I’m just sticking with those that have a strong leaning one way or the other. Also, so that I don’t end up repeating myself, I’m also going to refrain from including any films that will end up in either my Best or Worst of the year. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s get stuck into my Top 11 Critical Disagreements of 2015.

Now, this one I’ve placed right at the bottom of the list because, quite frankly, I get why this is hated as much as it is. It’s an extremely stupid threequel to an extremely stupid series that was borne from an extremely stupid mind. That said, my philosophy when it comes to film is that enjoyment, regardless of how it is derived, is always relevant: If I got a kick out of this film because of how ridiculous it was and how over-the-top Bill Boss was to watch, that’s still more than I got out of some other films I’ve seen this year. I totally get the hate for it; I just don’t echo it.

#10: Love & Mercy RT Score(s): 90%
Honestly, this film was way too uneven for me to get into. It’s well acted in places, particularly from Paul Dano, and the sound design is outstanding, but the wonky storytelling and weak characterization for the supporting cast kept this film from being as great as it had such potential to be. I am a little confused as to how the film got received this well, and has already made a number of year-end Best of lists, but then again, the film has enough merit to it to make that understandable.

I have no real love for Adam Sandler: His standards of quality have drastically dropped since the days of Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison and he since been content to make what are essentially filmed vacations with little to no artistic merit to them. That said, the consistent hate-binging the rest of the world is doing about him is getting really tired by now. This year in particular, as all three of these films have, in rapid succession, been called the worst that Sandler has ever been involved in. While I freely admit that these films most definitely have their problems, I’ve seen That’s My Boy; by no means, are these the worst of his filmography. Hell, I wouldn’t even call The Cobbler that bad a film to begin with; if anything, both that and Pixels show at least some levels of improvement over what came before it. Not all that promising, but more than enough to leave this dead horse where it lies already so we can move on to other films and creators that legitimately deserve it.

#8: Taken 3 RT Score(s): 9%
Speaking of films that get more hate than they deserve, I understand that the world has gotten tired of Liam Neeson’s action schtick; hell, I’m more than sick of it at this rate. However, with that said, the numerous Worst Of The Year lists that this has already landed on is frankly ridiculous. Maybe it’s because I make more of an effort to see everything that comes out, and as such have actively seen that there’s far worse out there, but this is the kind of film that should generate apathy at worst. I’d honestly put Taken 2 or even last year’s A Walk Through The Tombstones far lower than this film in terms of his recent output.

#7: Jurassic World RT Score(s): 71%
Now for a film that legitimately deserves scorn to be thrown at it. Even for a series that is as hit-and-miss as Jurassic Park, this is just shameful in how lazy it is. The plot, the acting, the writing, the effects work; it all smacks of a cheap cash-in that managed to benefit from the nostalgia hype machine to become the third-highest grossing film of all goddamn time! I know that childhood memories have dictated a lot of what has been screened this year; just look at the circus surrounding Star Wars. But even then, word-of-mouth logically should’ve put this film in the ground long before it reached its current box office bracket. And speaking of Star Wars, the director/co-writer of this wreck Colin Trevorrow is also slated to direct Episode IX; best we can hope for is a little more effort than what was shown here.

#6: The Transporter Refueled RT Score(s): 17%
This is a long string of flack that the Transporter series has garnered that it legitimately doesn’t deserve. Even with the absence of British bad-ass Jason Statham this time round, the film’s approach to its fight scenes alone should’ve gotten it at least some recognition as a change of pace from the CGI explosion-heavy fare coming from everywhere else. I guess this franchise’s place as a cult-only classic is secured by this point. Shame.

#5: The Gunman RT Score(s): 16%
This one just confuses me on what exactly I saw that others didn’t. Yeah, the plot is pretty standard 80’s action fare, but since when has that been so bad a sin that it stopped other films from getting some level of praise? Sean Penn is not miscast, or at least any more so than Liam Neeson was in the original Taken and look at how well that turned out, and does a great job at portraying his character. Maybe it’s because everyone was too fixated on wanting to see an action film and weren’t willing to allow anything else to sink in in the process; I don’t know. All I know is that I think this film got a bad rap that it didn’t really merit.

#4: Irrational Man RT Score(s): 42%
“Woody Allen apologists?” I sincerely hope that that is referring to possible writing tropes that get repeated in this film and not his real-world attitudes, because otherwise that is a particularly dickish way to put it. Admittedly, I have only recently gotten into Woody Allen’s oeuvre with Blue Jasmine-onwards and I do plan on getting through that slab of releases one of these days, but until then I just see a well-written script with a lot of thought behind it, being delivered by very capable actors.

#3: Manny Lewis/The Dressmaker RT Score(s): 25%/64%
There is something seriously messed up about the Australian critical landscape. Like, almost to a self-destructive degree. These two films aren’t on here because my opinions on them are in any way similar; far bloody from it. Instead, they are here to represent just how broken the consensus is when it comes to this country’s very sparse product. Manny Lewis got hideously mismarketed as a feel-good comedy, rather than the relatively sombre character dramedy that it really was. Yeah, the rom-com elements muddled it a bit, but it still had a lot in its script that worked. Compare this to The Dressmaker, a complete mess of a film that is being praised like few other local films have been of late; it’s like The Water Diviner all over again. Until we collectively get out shit together, I won’t rest because this mindset can only end up doing harm in the long run.

#2: American Ultra RT Score(s): 44%
I’m convinced that I just watched a completely different film than everyone else; I simply cannot understand how a film with this much going for it made it onto so many Worst Of The Year lists (Exhibit A). The comedy was a bit weak, admittedly, but does that completely negate everything else about it that worked? The excellent acting? The chemistry between Eisenberg and Stewart? The nice sense of scope that didn’t make the events feel too overblown? The visceral action scenes? The stunning cinematography? The fantastic handling of montages? This is why I made it a point of singling out Kristen Stewart in every film of her’s that I’ve reviewed: Because people are still unwilling to give her a chance after everything that happened with Twilight.

#1: The Intern RT Score(s): 60%
This film might seem a bit high up on my list, considering everything else that came before it. Sure, I certainly didn’t like it, but it still didn’t even register enough with me for the most part for me to muster up any real loathing for it. However, what pushes this right to the No. 1 spot is this little number. Every year, this argument gets brought up in some fashion: A film written/directed/predominantly starring women is released to some bad reviews, and someone says that they aren’t surprised that the mostly-male critical scene hates a “chick flick”. It is because of statements such as this that I cannot for the life of me side with the modern-day feminist movement: It’s just the exact same sexist bullshit, just with the labels swapped around. Whenever someone says that a film is shit, it isn’t because it doesn’t appeal to Neanderthal testosterone-filled junk brains or sensitive estrogen-filled emotional minds; it’s because the film is shit, plain and simple. Hell, even when I’ve brought up how some films were probably not made with my gender in mind, I still find the time to upvote/downvote elements of the production that worked or didn’t work respectively. I give a very hearty, and very direct, fuck you to Clem Bastow and every sexist piece of trash like her for continuing this farcical line of argument.

*several deep breathes*
Man, that got heated at the end there. Well, looks like our trip into all things hateful isn’t quite over yet. Join me next time for the Top 20 Worst Films Of 2015.

In the meantime though, drop a comment below with some of your own disagreements. What films have you seen from 2015 that you didn't think was as good/bad as others?

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