There's a lot of pressure on Cameron Crowe to make great films and this is not a great film. It's reaching for something that it can't get hold of. But what it does manage to grasp, it does really well. It's a great-looking movie with characters I liked a lot and some intriguing moral dilemmas.
22. Furious 7
I'm a big fan of these of movies and that hasn't changed with this one. Still has lots of what I love about this series: tough people, awesome stunts, and a ton of heart. But the plot is thinner this time (and they're always pretty thin), so that and the bittersweetness around Paul Walker's death bring it down for me. It's an amazing technical achievement though in terms of stunts and filling in scenes that Walker hadn't been in. A solid entry in the series, but not one of the best.
23. Kingsman: The Secret Service
X-Men: First Class always makes me forget that Matthew Vaughn is also the director behind Kick-Ass. And everything that turns me off about Kick-Ass is a problem for me in Kingsman as well. I'd put all the blame on Mark Millar, but I like Wanted, so I think it's the combination of Millar and Vaughn. They're both thrilled/intrigued/whatever by hyper-violence and just being really super explicit. I'm not, so including that in an otherwise cool story about dapper spies is a big drawback for me.
24. Terminator: Genisys
I didn't even want to give this a chance. I'd written off the Terminator franchise as something I'm no longer interested in. I mean, I don't use the word "franchise" very often when I'm talking about a movie series. I much prefer to think in terms of continuing story, and "franchise" sounds so business-y. But that's exactly what the Terminator movies have become, with the rights-holders leasing out the property to anyone who wants to reboot it and try to make some more money.
David was really curious about this one though and it became an excuse to show him the first two. So we went and it was surprisingly watchable. I have many problems with the story and both Jason Clarke and Jai Courtney are boring, but Emilia Clarke is an awesome substitute for Linda Hamilton and Schwarzenegger is at the absolute top of his game. I loved both of their characters and the relationship between them.
25. The DUFF
The title is horrible and I was afraid that the movie would be, too. It's a lot of fun, actually, with a nice message about being comfortable in your own skin. Not quite on the level with Easy A, Ten Things I Hate About You, or the best John Hughes movies, but a solid high school comedy. I might even rank it higher after another viewing or two.
26. The Hateful Eight
Great idea. Killer cast. Pretty to look at. Fantastic score by Ennio Morricone. And I was intrigued by the building of the mystery.
But it could've been 45 minutes shorter without losing anything of the story. There's too much dialogue that I don't care about and too many long, sweeping shots of countryside. It's gorgeous countryside, but an hour into the movie, I was ready to get on with things. I was also disappointed in the solution to the mystery, but at least there's no room for boredom as that's unfolding.
I saw the shorter cut without the intermission and ironically, I think the longer version may have helped some of my issues. More specifically, having the intermission as a palate cleanser may have helped. Would like to try it that way and find out.
27. While We’re Young
I like the ideas in While We're Young. Transitioning into maturity is a weird process that deserves some exploration. Very few people actually feel mature. Instead, we think of ourselves as younger than we are, so it can be startling to confront the reality and challenging to ease into the mindset that growing older doesn't mean not having fun anymore.
All of that is cool and While We're Young touches on it, but then it gets distracted by a theme it's way more interested in: the importance of veracity in documentary film-making. Which is also thought-provoking, but not what I signed up for. Still, great cast and it was this movie that made me realize I'm an Adam Driver fan.
28. Jupiter Ascending
So ambitious and so cool. Doesn't deserve the John Carter-level derision it got (but then, neither did John Carter). Sadly, though it's fun, it's not great. As in, I totally would have paid money for sequels, but it's not that big a deal to me that there won't be any.
I suffer enough Will Smith Fatigue that I wasn't going to watch this one at all. The trailer made it seem very serious and all about whether untrustworthy people can trust each other, so yawn. But then I heard some positive reviews about how it's really just a fun heist movie and I'm always up for that. And it is a really fun heist movie. A mediocre one, but enjoyable and at least it's not dour.
I thought this might be interesting to watch after re-visiting the Pink Panther movies this year. Johnny Depp's cartoon mode has grown tiresome in the last few years, but he's doing it less in Mortdecai (meaning that you can glimpse a human being under all those mannerisms) and his supporting cast (Ewan McGregor, Gwyneth Paltrow, and especially Paul Bettany) are doing great, comedic work. Jeff Goldblum has a fun role, too. All that plus an entertaining caper plot and the whole experience was much more than I hoped for.