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Monday, 4 January 2016

Fission Mailure Awards 2015: Films.

Fission Mailure Awards 2015

Hello! I rolled a dice, it landed on a four, and thus the first Fission Mailure Awards 2015 will be for the category of films. We'll be having the three worst and the three best, alternating, and the requirements for this are that it has to be a live-action film that I've reviewed in 2015 - even if it came out before.

So, without further ado, let's crack on:

The Bronze Medal for Third BEST Film: Jupiter Ascending.

Space Gene Queen and Space Werewolf Angel.

So, at the time, I called Jupiter Ascending 'good clean space fun', and that's still pretty much true. It's not a deep film, it's not meaningful, it is aiming squarely at some of the lowest bars possible, but it does so with aplomb, impeccable grace and humour, and some genuine skill in both the (hammy, over-the-top, scenery-chewing) performances and the (totally absurd) script.

In a film market filled with pretty shameless cash grabs vaguely disguised as labours of love, it's nice to see a film which is totally honest about what it is: This is an incredibly pretty, incredibly stupid action film, the cinematic equivalent of scarfing down a fourteen inch pizza with every topping imaginable, and that's really quite glorious.

In a better year for films, this might not have made the list, but this was a pretty poor year for films, and Jupiter Ascending, ludicrous but wholly honest about it, was a breath of fresh air.

The Wooden Spoon for Third WORST Film: Seventh Son.

What scene is this from? Who knows. Who even knows.

The only thing that can be said about Seventh Son is that it's boring. There is nothing here to excite, nothing to alarm, nothing to catch your interest at all: It's a boring book turned into a boring film by way of a group of executive producers running down a list and ticking boxes.

It's rushed, technically poor, uninspired, occasionally weird, and most of all, just bland. If Jupiter Ascending is the most ridiculous film to air this year, Seventh Son is the most predictable, by the numbers film of 2015, and while that might not earn it a spot higher on the list in a year filled with bad films, it definitely puts it in a solid third place.

The Silver Medal for Second BEST Film: Avengers: Age of Ultron.

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I had to think long and hard about whether I actually wanted to have this film on the list, because Age of Ultron is in many respects a film of extremes. When it's good, it's very good, and conversely, when it's bad, it's abysmal. There are no average moments in this film, no sections that are alright but not stellar - it's either amazing or terrible, all of the time.

Ultimately, I think the good outweighs the bad by a fairly significant amount, with the film as a whole being a fairly strong entry in the MCU, if also very far from the strongest (which is still Guardians of the Galaxy, cruelly deprived of its rightful place at the top of this list by the fact that it came out and was reviewed in 2014).

It's always nice to see the Avengers - who are at this point very familiar faces for everyone - back together, and I admit, as the rumblings of the 'beginning of the end' start in this film, I will be sad to see them go when the Infinity War films are over and done with. But I deeply enjoyed Age of Ultron, even if I'm not really in a hurry to watch it again.

The Angry Hive of Bees for Second WORST Film: Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials.

Just - ugh.

As I have said many times on this blog, I am an advocate for the right of those adapting things to cut and burn and alter the source material as they so wish, both for practical and artistic reasons, so long as doing so serves a clear purpose. I will never have any truck with the idea that source material - which is, after all, still there - is sacred, protected as it is by a veritable legion of people falling over themselves to think of excuses for why they're so oddly angered by any change whatsoever.

The Scorch Trials showed that there is a definite limit to that viewpoint, as the entire plot of the source material is thrown out and replaced, wholesale, with a completely different and much more generic plot, raising the question of 'Why did you even bother adapting this book if you're just going to tell an entirely unrelated story?' and 'At what point did you think that this was a remotely good idea?'

Added to all of that, the film just isn't good. It's a barely coherent, generic mess that's actively painful to watch, and it has absolutely no redeeming features, except possibly that it's funny to listen to Aidan Gillen's accent traverse the globe.

The Gold Medal for BEST Film: Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

I wanted to get a picture of the power trio all together, but no such luck.

I'm not a tremendously nostalgic person, and if I was, then it probably wouldn't be about Star Wars, given that the original trilogy came out years before I was born and the prequel trilogy was two thirds legitimately terrible (The Phantom Menace being the only solid one of the three). I went to see The Force Awakens largely because people told me to, and I am a slave to peer pressure.

It was one of the funnest and most well-constructed films I've seen all year, with a charismatic cast, some gorgeous set and costume design, and a well-paced, well-put-together story. It comes closer to being technically flawless than any other film I've seen this year (although it still, obviously, falls short of being flawless - what doesn't), and it was massively enjoyable to boot.

I'm still buzzed over it, and I will most definitely be watching it again when it comes out on DVD, which is why The Force Awakens is my Best Film of 2015.

The Shambling Monstrosity of Stitched-Together Sharks for WORST Film: Fantastic Four (2015).

Do you think God stays away because he too fears what he has created?

Both of my top two worst films of the year are films which made me revise my views in some fashion, usually by presenting an extreme of bad filmmaking that I hadn't experienced in quite some time. In Fantastic Four's case, I was forced to revise my views on DC's squeamishness about its superhero properties. I'm sorry, DC. I didn't know. I didn't realise just how squeamish and snivelling a film could get about being a superhero film, and now that I have plumbed those depths, I will never again be able to look at your films the same way again.

A superhero film that emphatically doesn't want to be a superhero film, and fights its eventual fate every step of the way, only going so far as to have the superheroes actually appear at all in the last twenty minutes of the film, Fantastic Four also combines totally unlikable characters, phoned in performances, and the worst writing I've seen all year. 

Not the worst writing in any film, the worst writing in anything. Films, television shows, anime, video games, you name it, Fantastic Four has outstripped them as far as sheer, dire, intolerable writing goes.

Every moment of this film was torment, and while I struggled a bit with some of the other films on this list, especially those in the third and second spaces, I knew from the moment I started writing this that Fantastic Four was the worst film of 2015. May they never make a sequel.

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