High Frame Reviews: Most Disappointing Films Of 2015

I tend to avoid bad films. With so many amazing films out there and limited hours in a day, I avoid the Paul Blart: Mall Cop and Taken 3’s of this world. So the below list is made up of films that could have been winners but just failed to reach the bar they could have, falling short and disappointing audiences. 

5. Scouts Guide To The Apocalypse I was quite excited for Scouts Guide To The Apocalypse. Comedy horror has frequently been a winning combination and with previous undead efforts such as Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead I was ready to laugh. Unfortunately after a first act which set up generic stereotypes but frequent chortling, the film fell apart into little more than two dimensional characters tracking through D grade comedy cliques. The nerd, the jock, the unusual guidance counsellor, the stripper with the heart of gold. This was more Zombie Strippers than Zombieland and just plays on the base instincts of young adults and any others still immature enough to equate flatulence and nudity with entertainment. Tye Sheridan and Blake Anderson deserve better. 

5. Scouts Guide To The Apocalypse
I was quite excited for Scouts Guide To The Apocalypse. Comedy horror has frequently been a winning combination and with previous undead efforts such as Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead I was ready to laugh. Unfortunately after a first act which set up generic stereotypes but frequent chortling, the film fell apart into little more than two dimensional characters tracking through D grade comedy cliques. The nerd, the jock, the unusual guidance counsellor, the stripper with the heart of gold. This was more Zombie Strippers than Zombieland and just plays on the base instincts of young adults and any others still immature enough to equate flatulence and nudity with entertainment. Tye Sheridan and Blake Anderson deserve better. 

4. Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2 Episode 4 The Finale If you split a novel into two films you need to ensure each part still contains all the elements of a stand alone story. Hunger Games falls down for more reasons than just its stunted plot, but there was always going to be fatigue and cynicism attached to the fatigue despite the franchise being a massive success. Jennifer Lawrence is a talented actress, she has shown time and time again she can be engaging, dramatic and hilarious but here she is dragged into melodrama by a script and direction that lacked the vitality of Catching Fire. There was more laughter in the crowd than anything when I endured the film and the few salutes thrown up by diehards in unison with the movie felt more in solidarity, like the band playing as the Titanic went down, than in actual jubilation. A stink pile that hurts the entire series.

4. Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 2 Episode 4 The Finale
If you split a novel into two films you need to ensure each part still contains all the elements of a stand alone story. Hunger Games falls down for more reasons than just its stunted plot, but there was always going to be fatigue and cynicism attached to the fatigue despite the franchise being a massive success. Jennifer Lawrence is a talented actress, she has shown time and time again she can be engaging, dramatic and hilarious but here she is dragged into melodrama by a script and direction that lacked the vitality of Catching Fire. There was more laughter in the crowd than anything when I endured the film and the few salutes thrown up by diehards in unison with the movie felt more in solidarity, like the band playing as the Titanic went down, than in actual jubilation. A stink pile that hurts the entire series.

3. Absolutely Anything A film has Monty Python reuniting in it, Terry Jones directing and starring a who’s who of British comedy royalty like Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Simon Pegg and a special slot for Robin Williams. I expected this was going to be the funniest film of the year and I spent the first two acts of the film clawing at jokes (mainly delivered by Izzard) as the concept of a man with infinite power is used to very limited effect. Rob Riggle is atrocious, Kate Beckinsale is a blank canvas and even Simon Pegg fails to spark again, leading me to question why nobody thought to get Edgar Wright involved to save the trainwreck with some interesting film making. By the predictable end of the film I was ready for it to be over and just found myself truly sad that something I expected to love so much that contained such talented comedians was so atrociously vanilla.

3. Absolutely Anything
A film has Monty Python reuniting in it, Terry Jones directing and starring a who’s who of British comedy royalty like Eddie Izzard, Joanna Lumley, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Simon Pegg and a special slot for Robin Williams. I expected this was going to be the funniest film of the year and I spent the first two acts of the film clawing at jokes (mainly delivered by Izzard) as the concept of a man with infinite power is used to very limited effect. Rob Riggle is atrocious, Kate Beckinsale is a blank canvas and even Simon Pegg fails to spark again, leading me to question why nobody thought to get Edgar Wright involved to save the trainwreck with some interesting film making. By the predictable end of the film I was ready for it to be over and just found myself truly sad that something I expected to love so much that contained such talented comedians was so atrociously vanilla.

2. Fantastic Four The world has taken Fan4stic to court already for its many crimes. I have myself taken time to study studio involvement in superhero films and concluded that a hands off approach seems to get the job done most often. Expectations were high for the film based upon the splendid cast. When Jamie Bell is the weakest member of the cast you have a strong field to play in. Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Michael B Jordan all put in great performances elsewhere but look fatigued and blank surrounded by a colourless landscape and CGI atrocities. A film that can be split in two, the first half is passable as an origins story before it devolves into the fastest race to the credits possible. Was there a villain? Was there any actual tension? Did the conclusion satisfy anyone including the studio? Will we ever see Josh Trank behind the camera again after what can only be described as a horror year for the promising filmmaker. This was the film equivalent of Icarus, great promise and anticipation crashing and burning in a horrendous CGI Grayscale of flames. 

2. Fantastic Four
The world has taken Fan4stic to court already for its many crimes. I have myself taken time to study studio involvement in superhero films and concluded that a hands off approach seems to get the job done most often. Expectations were high for the film based upon the splendid cast. When Jamie Bell is the weakest member of the cast you have a strong field to play in. Miles Teller, Kate Mara and Michael B Jordan all put in great performances elsewhere but look fatigued and blank surrounded by a colourless landscape and CGI atrocities. A film that can be split in two, the first half is passable as an origins story before it devolves into the fastest race to the credits possible. Was there a villain? Was there any actual tension? Did the conclusion satisfy anyone including the studio? Will we ever see Josh Trank behind the camera again after what can only be described as a horror year for the promising filmmaker. This was the film equivalent of Icarus, great promise and anticipation crashing and burning in a horrendous CGI Grayscale of flames. 

1. Pixels Kevin James is the President of the United States Of America. Adam Sandler is the romantic lead. How could Pixels be a flop with a setup like that? The concept was interesting, Peter Dinklage is a class act. Pixels is an eyesore. Homophobic, misogynistic and juvenile, Sandler continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel with other people’s money and seems to still come out fine. This film failed to make back its reported US$110 million dollar cost at the box office in the US but worldwide figures will probably keep the film in the black which is a shame. This film deserves to fail. A single thread joke is stretched out to 100 minutes of drivel. Lazy scriptwriting drives a plot that was written by a 10 year old writing for a 5 year old. The film often feels like they started the cameras rolling before figuring out what was happening and just let the actors yell and fill in the blanks in editing and CGI. I have never been a huge Adam Sandler fan, but this sits at the bottom of the barrel in a career that has more lowlights than anything else. Burn this film at the stake as an example to the entire Sandler army, we don’t need this, we don’t want this and you need to do better. I’m looking at you Nick Swardson and Josh Gad, shape up or you are next on the pyre.

1. Pixels
Kevin James is the President of the United States Of America. Adam Sandler is the romantic lead. How could Pixels be a flop with a setup like that? The concept was interesting, Peter Dinklage is a class act. Pixels is an eyesore. Homophobic, misogynistic and juvenile, Sandler continues to scrape the bottom of the barrel with other people’s money and seems to still come out fine. This film failed to make back its reported US$110 million dollar cost at the box office in the US but worldwide figures will probably keep the film in the black which is a shame. This film deserves to fail. A single thread joke is stretched out to 100 minutes of drivel. Lazy scriptwriting drives a plot that was written by a 10 year old writing for a 5 year old. The film often feels like they started the cameras rolling before figuring out what was happening and just let the actors yell and fill in the blanks in editing and CGI. I have never been a huge Adam Sandler fan, but this sits at the bottom of the barrel in a career that has more lowlights than anything else. Burn this film at the stake as an example to the entire Sandler army, we don’t need this, we don’t want this and you need to do better. I’m looking at you Nick Swardson and Josh Gad, shape up or you are next on the pyre.

High Frame Review: Top Films Of 2015/#20 - #6

Having enjoyed and endured over 150 movies in 2015, there was no way to make a top 10 list without betraying some films that gave me lots of enjoyment this year. Instead of having a dozen honourable mentions, here is films 20 - 6 of High Frame Review's Top 20 Films of 2015.

20.  Sleeping With Other People This should have been awful. It’s a self aware Rom-Com in 2015. Two middle of the pack talented leads and a few indie comedians to fill the laughs. It should have failed. Financially it did and faced mixed critical reviews, but to me it was a success. I believed the relationship, i appreciated the self awareness and i laughed constantly. Not a critical prize, but it’s a good time.


20.  Sleeping With Other People
This should have been awful. It’s a self aware Rom-Com in 2015. Two middle of the pack talented leads and a few indie comedians to fill the laughs. It should have failed. Financially it did and faced mixed critical reviews, but to me it was a success. I believed the relationship, i appreciated the self awareness and i laughed constantly. Not a critical prize, but it’s a good time.

19. Irrational Man Woody Allen’s tale of an off the rails lecturer managing the affections of a young student could have been standard fare for the prolific director’s later work. A mesmerizing twist and solid performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. Avoid spoilers, this isn't the movie you thought it is in the trailer.


19. Irrational Man
Woody Allen’s tale of an off the rails lecturer managing the affections of a young student could have been standard fare for the prolific director’s later work. A mesmerizing twist and solid performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Emma Stone. Avoid spoilers, this isn't the movie you thought it is in the trailer.

18. Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead An Australian zombie slasher with a generous dosage of comedy. With realistic Ozzies chucking around in the outback spilling blood with reckless abandon, An A story that I couldn't get enough of with a B story that should have been better left in editing, Wyrmwood is still more fun than the last half dozen Walking Dead seasons. Wyrmwood feels like the D Grade horror film we have been waiting decades for to restart Ozploitation. 


18. Wyrmwood: Road Of The Dead
An Australian zombie slasher with a generous dosage of comedy. With realistic Ozzies chucking around in the outback spilling blood with reckless abandon, An A story that I couldn't get enough of with a B story that should have been better left in editing, Wyrmwood is still more fun than the last half dozen Walking Dead seasons. Wyrmwood feels like the D Grade horror film we have been waiting decades for to restart Ozploitation. 

17. Creep Horror films often go for out and out gore or jump scares to ruin your underwear, Creep has a little bit of both, but that isn’t all. Where Creep really stands up is its ability to unnerve. Mark Duplass is unnerving. The hand held camera and cuts are unnerving. The environment is claustrophobic and unnerving. This is an amazing cheap film that feels more like Blair Witch than Paranormal Activity. 


17. Creep
Horror films often go for out and out gore or jump scares to ruin your underwear, Creep has a little bit of both, but that isn’t all. Where Creep really stands up is its ability to unnerve. Mark Duplass is unnerving. The hand held camera and cuts are unnerving. The environment is claustrophobic and unnerving. This is an amazing cheap film that feels more like Blair Witch than Paranormal Activity. 

16. Inside Out A movie that teaches an entire generation how to express their emotions while also entertaining their kids, Inside Out is perhaps Pixar’s most important film. Only let down by a predictable ending and some excess characters, Inside Out has more than enough memorable moments, quotable lines and heart to be another gorgeous addition to the Pixar filmography. 


16. Inside Out
A movie that teaches an entire generation how to express their emotions while also entertaining their kids, Inside Out is perhaps Pixar’s most important film. Only let down by a predictable ending and some excess characters, Inside Out has more than enough memorable moments, quotable lines and heart to be another gorgeous addition to the Pixar filmography. 

15. Youth Youth is beautiful. A tender film about age, experience and success, every scene is a painting and reeks of class. Paolo Sorrentino has placed quality actors in Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda against a picturesque Swiss Alps and lets the magic play out. With humour and heart, Youth is the escapism you want with some lessons you need.


15. Youth
Youth is beautiful. A tender film about age, experience and success, every scene is a painting and reeks of class. Paolo Sorrentino has placed quality actors in Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda against a picturesque Swiss Alps and lets the magic play out. With humour and heart, Youth is the escapism you want with some lessons you need.

14. The Lobster Colin Farrell stars in a truly absurd and deeply troubling alternate future that sees singles forced into relationships or face being transformed into an animal. With a surreal premise and a few laughs, it is the moments of immense emotional anguish which stand out here. The most memorable film experience this year. 


14. The Lobster
Colin Farrell stars in a truly absurd and deeply troubling alternate future that sees singles forced into relationships or face being transformed into an animal. With a surreal premise and a few laughs, it is the moments of immense emotional anguish which stand out here. The most memorable film experience this year. 

13. Room You will need to be in a solid frame of mind before this one. Room is suffocating and excruciating in parts, more so because we know this happens in the world and we have no idea where or when. Both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay put in huge performances, the former as a woman who is on the edge and the latter as a wide eyed innocent, their interplay perfectly captured by Lenny Abrahamson. 


13. Room
You will need to be in a solid frame of mind before this one. Room is suffocating and excruciating in parts, more so because we know this happens in the world and we have no idea where or when. Both Brie Larson and Jacob Tremblay put in huge performances, the former as a woman who is on the edge and the latter as a wide eyed innocent, their interplay perfectly captured by Lenny Abrahamson. 

12. Creed In a year dominated with sequels again, Creed felt fresh and vital. A superior boxing movie to Southpaw, Ryan Coogler harnessed the raw energy of Michael B Jordan to fill audiences with the same awakening we felt with the original films. Special note must go to the long-shot boxing match that draws you in before you really know what you are looking at. 


12. Creed
In a year dominated with sequels again, Creed felt fresh and vital. A superior boxing movie to Southpaw, Ryan Coogler harnessed the raw energy of Michael B Jordan to fill audiences with the same awakening we felt with the original films. Special note must go to the long-shot boxing match that draws you in before you really know what you are looking at. 

11. What We Do In The Shadows Mockumentaries can be tricky ground. For every Zelig and This Is Spinal Tap you get a Rutles or Bruno. What We Do In The Shadows is just wondrous. A massive dose of laconic New Zealand humour mixed with gothic stereotypes and a dash of gallows humour. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi are a force of comedy. Looking after the acting, directing, screenwriting and producing, the pair have created much more than single punchline repeated for 90 minutes. 


11. What We Do In The Shadows
Mockumentaries can be tricky ground. For every Zelig and This Is Spinal Tap you get a Rutles or Bruno. What We Do In The Shadows is just wondrous. A massive dose of laconic New Zealand humour mixed with gothic stereotypes and a dash of gallows humour. Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi are a force of comedy. Looking after the acting, directing, screenwriting and producing, the pair have created much more than single punchline repeated for 90 minutes. 

10. It Follows I’ve never been huge on horror and luckily It Follows isn’t the pant wetter i feared it may be. More of a psychological thriller centred around the concept of a sexually transmitted curse (HIV or pregnancy metaphor or something deeper?). It Follows is visually stunning, each frame is a work of art and shows a cinematographer in Mike Gioulakis with beautiful palate. Original and beautiful.


10. It Follows
I’ve never been huge on horror and luckily It Follows isn’t the pant wetter i feared it may be. More of a psychological thriller centred around the concept of a sexually transmitted curse (HIV or pregnancy metaphor or something deeper?). It Follows is visually stunning, each frame is a work of art and shows a cinematographer in Mike Gioulakis with beautiful palate. Original and beautiful.

9. The Revenant The Revenant is often claustrophobic and devastating. A story of human struggle, The Revenant was an experience and a visual masterpiece as we have come to expect from Iñárritu and Lubezki. Occasionally falling down in story and length, The Revenant will be a film I remember in years to come as the opening scene among others will become how to guides of modern film making. 


9. The Revenant
The Revenant is often claustrophobic and devastating. A story of human struggle, The Revenant was an experience and a visual masterpiece as we have come to expect from Iñárritu and Lubezki. Occasionally falling down in story and length, The Revenant will be a film I remember in years to come as the opening scene among others will become how to guides of modern film making. 

8. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl By far the sweetest experience in a cinema in 2015 came in the form of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. A film that revels in moviemaking as a theme and a craft, Me and Earl carefully avoids clique, providing fresh ideas about friendship, youth and illness. Running the full spectrum of emotion, this is a film that should be watched by any fan of whimsical filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Burton or Miyazaki.  


8. Me And Earl And The Dying Girl
By far the sweetest experience in a cinema in 2015 came in the form of Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. A film that revels in moviemaking as a theme and a craft, Me and Earl carefully avoids clique, providing fresh ideas about friendship, youth and illness. Running the full spectrum of emotion, this is a film that should be watched by any fan of whimsical filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Burton or Miyazaki.  

7. Trumbo Trumbo is about fear. Fear of Communism, a divided USA and people valued by their skill and not their beliefs. If only there was some parallels to the present day. Bryan Cranston knocks this one out of the park as Trumbo, a screenwriter in golden age Hollywood shunned for his political stance. Flawed by its occasional scattered narrative, Trumbo is an important story to be told and the performances from the whole cast ensure the humour, humility and lesson shine through.


7. Trumbo
Trumbo is about fear. Fear of Communism, a divided USA and people valued by their skill and not their beliefs. If only there was some parallels to the present day. Bryan Cranston knocks this one out of the park as Trumbo, a screenwriter in golden age Hollywood shunned for his political stance. Flawed by its occasional scattered narrative, Trumbo is an important story to be told and the performances from the whole cast ensure the humour, humility and lesson shine through.

  6. The Big Short What a truly scary and depressing film The Big Short is. And yet Adam McKay’s star studded is fun, a wild chase through the financial housing collapse played out like a race against time. WIth half a dozen leading performances and a storytelling style that lets every layman into the inner workings of the big banks. Huge shoutout for McKay for the Margot Robbie cameo and allowing Christian Bale and Steve Carell to chew on the scenery. McKay builds characters into what may have otherwise been a procedural corruption story to elevate it into a harrowing and eye opening spectacle that only cinema can truly communicate.

 
6. The Big Short
What a truly scary and depressing film The Big Short is. And yet Adam McKay’s star studded is fun, a wild chase through the financial housing collapse played out like a race against time. WIth half a dozen leading performances and a storytelling style that lets every layman into the inner workings of the big banks. Huge shoutout for McKay for the Margot Robbie cameo and allowing Christian Bale and Steve Carell to chew on the scenery. McKay builds characters into what may have otherwise been a procedural corruption story to elevate it into a harrowing and eye opening spectacle that only cinema can truly communicate.