Film Of The Year 2015

It has been a pretty big year for films this year.
We have seen some original films along with the return of some old favourite franchises and characters.


But before I get to my film of the year. I’m going to offer a few honourable mentions of films I have enjoyed in 2015, but didn’t quite think they were the best. I’ll try to avoid spoilers as much as I can, but there may be the odd one slip through, you have been warned.
So lets get cracking, my first enjoyable film of 2015.


Birdman (The Unexpected Virtue Of Ignorance): Michael Keaton plays a struggling actor, Riggan Thomson who was once famous for playing the superhero Birdman over 20 years ago. He tires to establish himself as a serious actor by writing, directing and starring in an ambitious Broadway production which he hopes will breathe new life into his failing career.

The film is full of great performances from the likes of Edward Norton and Zach Galifianakis. But it is Michael Keaton himself who steals the show with his portrayal of this unhappy actor trying to regain his fame and control of his life…all while being haunted by his more famous alter ego Birdman.

A bitter-sweet film with plenty of room for your own interpretation as to exactly what is going on with the Riggan Thomson character.


American Sniper: Directed by the great Clint Eastwood and starring Bradley Cooper. This film tells the true story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. After marrying, Kyle is sent out to his first real conflict in Iraq along with other members of his SEALS team.

After four tours of duty in total, he is sent home back to his wife and family. He returns a hero and legend for his deeds in Iraq. However, back home is where Kyle struggles to maintain a “normal” life with all he had witnessed while in conflict.

Brilliantly directed by Clint Eastwood and Bradley Cooper is equally as great as the tragic real life American hero, Chris Kyle.


Kingsman: The Secret Service: A wonderful tongue in cheek love letter to spy films. With a great ensemble cast that includes; Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson and Taron Egerton. Based on the comic book of the same name. Taron plays a simple streetwise kid; Gary “Eggsy” Unwin who gets enrolled into the world of the Kingsmen by Harry Hart (Colin Firth) after they lose one of their agents.

Samuel L. Jackson plays the villainous Richmond Valentine. Who plans on launching a mass, worldwide killing spree. Harry Hart takes “Eggsy” under his wing and puts him through a tough training schedule in order to help him take down Valentine.

Funny and action packed with some amazingly choreographed fight sequences. Plus top notch performances from Colin Firth and Taron Egerton. Yet it is Samuel L. Jackson who steals the show here as the main villain who is utterly charming and endearing.


The Interview: Controversially pulled from its original release date after the infamous Sony Pictures Entertainment hack in 2014. On December 16, 2014, the hackers issued a warning to movie-goers, threatening to attack the New York premier of The Interview as well as other threats of attacks. A private message to Sony executives, said that the hackers would not release further information if Sony never releases the film and removed its presence from the internet. Many cinema chains decided not to screen the film themselves.
Sony did release the film, but only in a few smaller cinemas as well as a limited online release and cancelled a wider release schedule.

The film stars James Franco as Dave Skylark, a famous TV celebrity and interviewer. With Seth Rogen playing his producer Aaron Rapoport. They find out that the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is a huge fan of Skylark’s TV show and they are decide to interview Kim Jong-un in an attempt to legitimize themselves as serious journalists. As Skylark and Rapoport prepare to travel to Pyongyang for the interview, they are recruited by the CIA to assassinate Kim Jong-un.

A wickedly funny film with some surprisingly touching moments all be them faked by Kim Jong-un to impress the visiting Americans. Shame those overtly touchy North Koreans lowered themselves to terrorist threats over a comedy film.


Predestination: One of the surprise films of the year for me. I knew nothing about this one other then it was based on a story by Robert A. Heinlein. Ethan Hawke plays a Temporal Agent tasked to hunting down a known terrorist known as “The Fizzle Bomber” who is responsible for killing 1000’s of people.

While working undercover in a bar, Hawke meets a mysterious customer who he takes on to help him track The Fizzle Bomber…and that is all I’m willing to say about this film as going on too much would be getting into serious spoilers.

This is a great time travel film that will have you scratching you head and asking WTF is going on? If you like a bit of a thriller that will leave you asking questions, then this is the film for you.


John Wick: Directed by David Leitch, Chad Stahelski and starring Keanu Reeves as the titualr character. This film is a rather simple revenge story, but done with great style. Reeves plays John Wick, a retired hitman who gave up his violent career after finding love. His wife suddenly dies and this leaves Wick in deep mourning. His wife, before she died had a brought a puppy for him.

Shorty after, a violent and sadistic mobster Iosef Tarasov (Alfie Allen) breaks into John’s home, steals his beloved car and kills the puppy that was the final gift from his wife. Wick goes out to seek revenge, only problem is that Iosef Tarasov is the son of his former employer and gangland boss, who puts a huge bounty on Wick’s head in an attempt to save his son.

Great action film with a simple revenge plot. Keanu Reeves is amazing as an ageing and retired hitman but still has the skills required to take on his former boss.


Mad Max: Fury Road: Max is back…or rebooted. The forth film in the franchise and one again written and directed the franchise creator; George Miller. Only this time Mel Gibson is gone and Tom Hardy takes up the role instead.

Max Rockatansky teams up with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) as she tries to free the five wives of ruthless wasteland gang leader, Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne…who played Toecutter in the original Mad Max). Immortan Joe sends out a hunting party to track down and kill both Furiosa and Max and regain his wives.

Simple plot…but all Mad Max films have simple plots. Yet I really enjoyed this one, a tone of car based action and destruction that really captured what a Mad Max film should be. Only gripe for me is that this really is not a Mad Max film as Max is more of a secondary character as Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa really is the focal point here.
I thought what little Tom Hardy had to do as Max was great though and more then a worthy replacement for the original Max, Mel Gibson. With at least one more film already announced, I can’t wait to see some more Mad Max. I just hope he is in the sequel a lot more.


Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation: Now I’m not the worlds biggest Mission: Impossible fan. I enjoyed the first film, but the sequels were pretty redundant. Yet I found this one really, really well done. Back once again is Tom Cruise as Ethan Hunt, only this time the IMF has been disbanded. yet the world is under threat by an organisation known as “The Syndicate”.

Hunt makes it his own personal mission to stop the sinister organization. While the CIA try to track him down to bring him in. Hunt enlists the help of some old friends; William Brandt (Jeremy Renner), Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) and Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames).

There is a bit more to the plot than I described there, but I don’t want to spoil too much if you have not yet seen it. But this was a really good film with some great action and a decent plot. As I said, I’m not a fan of the franchise, but this film impressed me.
If you fancy an exciting action/thriller, then you can’t really go wrong with this one.

No Esacpe

No Escape: Starring Owen Wilson as Jack Dwyer, an American businessman who moves to Southeast Asia with his wife and two children for his job. Jack is hired to oversee the construction of a water manufacturing plant for the company he works for.

The next day, Jack goes out to try and buy an American newspaper and he gets caught up in the middle of a violent rebellion. Jack manages to get back to his hotel only to find the uprising rebellion are there too and he learns they are there to kill any and all foreigners…that means Jack and his family are in danger.

The film is a tense and often brutal thriller (with a couple of really silly moments). Owen Wilson is great in the lead role and making a very welcome supporting actor appearance is Pierce Brosnan who plays an English tourist that is not all he seems to be.

This film really could have been absolutely amazing…if not for just a few silly parts. But overall, its a good thriller that can sometimes be a bit hard to watch. Plus Pierce Brosnan is just great in this one.

Which all leads into my pick for film of the year in 2015.


Fifty Shades Of Grey: And I bet you were expecting me to say Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Yep, its a surprise I must admit but this film truly is the best of 2015. I know it gets some flak, but its an overlooked masterpiece with amazing sub-text and compelling storytelling…nah, just joking. You couldn’t pay me enough to watch that shit.

My REAL film of 2015 is also the most recent film I have seen this year…


Creed: Following on from my Rocky retrospective. This was a film I was looking forward to, but also wasn’t really expecting too much at the same time. Yet it really surprised me in how great it was.

It really just boils down to a rehash of the original Rocky film. A young amateur boxer is mentored by a reluctant ageing trainer. The young boxer finds love as well as a chance at the title fight.

However, its a great rehash and one with some superb writing and acting throughout.
Michael B. Jordan in the starring role as Adonis Johnson/Creed is just a joy to watch and perfect casting for the role of playing the illegitimate son of Rocky’s old rival and friend, Apollo. What was great is how much Sylvester Stallone is in this film. In thought he’d be in it for 20 minutes or so as he is only a supporting actor in this one. But no, he almost had as much screen time as Jordan.

The chemistry between the two leads works great and you really get a sense of the respect the Rocky character has and his history through the franchise so far. While not as great as the previous film; Rocky Balboa. There is one thing in the film that was far better then any Rocky film to date. That is Sylvester Stallone himself, best performance of his career by far. If people doubt whether Stallone can act or not, I’d just point them towards this film as he is just stunning here. There has even been talk of the famed Oscar. Stallone at the very least deserves a nomination, if not a win for Best Supporting Actor.

You just need to remember going in that this is NOT a Rocky film. The torch has been passed wonderfully to Adonis here, this is his film and Rocky is just there…but he is there and it feels natural and not forced at all.

Creed is amazing, emotional and the best film I have seen this year by far, even if the plot is a carbon copy of the original Rocky, everything else about it is crafted perfectly. If they can maintain the greatness for future films, I’d definitely like to see more Creed films.

Interesting note; Stallone was the exact same age here Burgess Meredith was when he appeared in the first film as Rocky’s mentor.

Coming up next, my Game Of The Year 2015.


The Rocky Saga Round III


Everyone, including Sylvester Stallone believed Rocky Balboa was the last film in the series and it ended perfectly with Rocky (and Stallone) saying a final goodbye to his fans.

But I guess you just can’t keep a great character down as Rocky is back in Creed.
Creed is not technically considered a true sequel to the Rocky franchise, but more of a spin off instead, a kind of passing the torch film if you will.
Now I have personally avoided as much as I can with this film as I want it to be a surprise. I watched the first trailer for the film and I know the synopsis. But I’ve left it at that.

So what is there to know about Creed?


Creed: Written by and directed by Ryan Coogler (no Sylvester Stallone for the first time in the series) picks up after the events of Rocky Balboa. Rocky is still running the restaurant, Adrian’s, when he gets a visit from a stranger.
A young boxer comes to Rocky and asks if he would train him. That young boxer is. Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) the son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s former rival and friend. Adonis was born after Apollo died so never knew his father.
Adonis is a fighter with so much spirit and passion, coupled with the blood of his father running through his veins and the up most respect for Rocky himself.

Rocky eventually agrees to help train Adonis and…that’s as much as I know about the film.

But from what I have seen, I’m really looking forward to it. It seems to be carrying on from the last film with its more grounded in reality approach and more character focused.
I have heard some rumours about the film from Rocky dying to a cameo from the man that killed Apollo, Drago. But rumours are rumours.

I have glanced at a few reviews and so far it is getting praised a lot. Sounds like its a good film.

I am looking forward to seeing this film myself and if successful, it could even become its own franchise.
In 30 years from now, we could be watching Creed VII.

Creed 2

Anyway, that is yer actual Rocky Saga right there all six (or seven) films summarised.
But what do I think of them and the series as a whole?


The Rocky Saga: For me, there are plenty of ups and downs throughout the series. There are some genuinely heartbreaking moments and there are some downright stupid moments.

But as a whole collection, I love it. Even if boxing is not your thing there is still a whole lot to enjoy here as boxing is never the main focus of the films. Its the characters, the relationships and the stories that are always at the forefront. Boxing is just the backdrop the films take place against.

The fact that the soundtrack is pretty amazing helps to.
If you are somebody who had trouble getting up in the morning. Change the alarm on you phone to the main Rocky theme or Eye Of The Tiger, I guarantee you’ll hop out of bed thinking you can take on the world.

A great series of films that, despite more than a few times when it all gets silly, provides a great bit of storytelling and give us one of the most charming and endearing characters ever caught on film with Rocky.

So what do I think of each of the films?

Rocky: It’s a simple story but told really well. It’s a basic underdog tale that had been done to death. Yet this version seems quite refreshing.

Sylvester Stallone as Rocky is believable and also shows that Stallone can write and act. The supporting cast are also golden.
Rocky did win 3 Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing. As well as being nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Sylvester Stallone), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Talia Shire), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Burgess Meredith and Burt Young), Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Sylvester Stallone) as well as Best Sound and Best Music.
Brilliant film and for me, the best of the lot.

Rocky II: Was there a need for a sequel? Not really, the first film is one that stands on its own. But we got a sequel (several in fact) and for the most part I really enjoy this one.

However, there is one major thing that bugs me about this film. That is how stupid Rocky is made out to be. Now granted, Rocky had never been the sharpest knife in the draw. But he was never “stupid”.

Yet in this film (to paraphrase another film) they go full retard. Rocky can’t read…since when? He managed perfectly fine in the first film. All the jokes shoehorned in to play on how stupid Rocky is, like the condominium thing. The fact Rocky blows all his money on fast cars and a nice jacket, etc.
He is just a complete imbecile in this one.

Again Rocky was never a mastermind…but he was still smart, he always had a good head on his shoulders. He was never dumb, yet that is how he is portrayed in this film.
If they ever made an Airplane! style parody of Rocky, this is how the character would be portrayed, directly from this film as the character almost seems like a parody anyway.

Good sequel, but the way they dumbed down Rocky as a character was annoying.

Rocky III: I really enjoy this one more than Rocky II for two main reasons.

1) Rocky is not a complete moron any more.
2) Mr.T.

I love Clubber Lang, by far my favourite Rocky villain. Everything he does is pure awesome. His put downs and insults, the character is just so alive. This film is also where “I pity the fool” comes from.
This film launched the career of Mr.T and it was this role that landed him a part on The-A-Team TV show.

Mickey’s death is quite heartbreaking and the whole idea of Rocky being blinded by his own celebrity status was an interesting dynamic as was bringing in Apollo as Rocky’s trainer. Giving some insight and building on their friendship and respect they have for each other.

Good sequel and great extension of the characters.

Rocky IV: Okay, now things get really, really stupid.

This film is both one of the most silly, over the top, redundant films ever made and yet also one of the singular most amazing things ever committed to film.
Its a terrible Rocky film and sequel, but also such a great film to sit back and enjoy.

There are problems with the writing. Like if Rocky was so adamant Apollo should postpone the fight, why did he wait until minutes before the fight started to tell him? Then seeing as Rocky was fully aware at how dangerous Drago was, why did he throw the towel in AFTER Apollo gets beaten senseless and not before? Yeah Rocky, its your fault Apollo is dead.

But you know the worst thing in this film? That damn talking robot given to Paulie for his birthday present. A talking robot…in a Rocky film? People got upset over aliens in Indiana Jones, that was nothing. It may have o ly been in a couple of scenes but still, that was enough to be unbelievably annoying.

Then there is Drago himself who is basically a super human. Some kind of mega boss battle you’d find in a video game. I really like Dolph Lundgren in the role and the character…but he was still a bit too over the top really.
To finish, that damn ending where Rocky ends the cold war and unites America and Russia as friends. Its all just a tad too cheesy and clearly a film of its time. I’m sure people were up out of their seats watching this back in 1985 (unless you were Russian), but now it is a little cringe worthy.

Still that James Brown introduction for the Creed/Drago fight was awesome. Best fight introduction ever.

Yet as I said, despite its problems Rocky IV is a fun film to watch. Really damn stupid but still a whole lot of fun.

Rocky V: Pretty much universally hated. Even Sylvester Stallone himself has disowned this one (not Rocky IV with its talking robot and superhuman Russian). The next film, Rocky Balboa has a flashback to every Rocky film previously…except this one.

You know, I really like this one though. Yeah the whole father son thing is tedious and feels shoehorned in just because Sage Stallone was playing the son and the bullying sub-plot is just pointless. But I still enjoy this film as it gets back to reality and back to characters.

Tommy was a great character and a refreshing change to see someone turn on Rocky like he did, despite all Rocky did for him.
There are plenty of throwbacks and references to the original film with Rocky back in his old neighbourhood. I enjoy the idea of Rocky becoming the mentor figure that Mickey once was to him.

Plus that final street fight is amazing and good to see something different from the norm in a Rocky film.

Yeah, despite Sylvester Stallone really, really hating this film himself and many of the fans agreeing. I’ll always stand by Rocky V as a better sequel than IV and one that gets things back on track. I just have to ignore Sage Stallone as Robert Balboa and the film is great.

Rocky Balboa: I was one of those that made the old jokes when this film was announced. Really, another Rocky film with an ageing Stallone? As much as I love the films, Rocky V was enough and where it should have ended.

I even made the pre-decision to not bother to watch this one and avoided it for ages.
Then I brought the Rocky DVD box set and this film was included, so may as well watch it.
To be quite honest, I was blown away. The film is the best since the original and really gets back to basics.
Its all about characters with very little spectacle. Its a good honest story told well and written brilliantly.

Stallone gives an amazing performance as Rocky here and the whole film is full of emotion. Rocky taking his anniversary tour of the places he used to go with Adrian just tugs at the heart strings. Plus there are a couple of well written speeches that mirror the kind of flack Stallone was getting for wanting to do this film. Like the speech Rocky gives at the boxing commission when he applies for a licence or the one he gives to his Robert when he tries to talks him out of fighting again.
Really puts me in mind of the original film.

The fact they filmed the fight with a real life boxer and all filmed during a real boxing match during a real pay per view event adds a lot of, well realism. Probably the best fight in the whole series.

The decision to replace the actor playing Rocky’s son (replacing Stallone’s real life son) was a tough but good idea as the dynamic between the two actors is brilliant. Stallone is better here acting alongside Milo Ventimiglia than he was with his real son Sage in Rocky V.
Killing off Adrian off screen was also a ballsy move and a gamble that really works as we now get to see Rocky with nothing, which was what he had at the start of his journey. This really helps and adds plenty of believability and gravitas to the character.

Great film and an apt end to the character that has lasted so long.


Rocky Balboa is one of my all time favourite film characters. He is simple but charming, tough but caring. Seeing the character grow from humble beginnings though his rise to stardom and his fall from grace over the series of films is an epic and emotional roller coaster.
He had endured for almost 40 years because he is such a great character. I already believed I said goodbye to the character at the end of the last film (and yes I had a lump in my throat), but he is back once more and I’m more than happy to see him again. But I will miss him when he finally is gone for good.

I can’t wait to watch Creed.