Leslie's Favorite Movies from Summer 2015

I have to admit it. This summer was filled with a number of lackluster movies for me. I’ve become bored by summer blockbusters that don’t provide anything new or interesting to the usual formula. Because of that, we skipped several of the big tent pictures that most people would assume we would see. At the same time, the ones we did see, generally left me unimpressed and wishing I’d spent the time binge watching something on Netflix instead. I’m honestly shocked that this was apparently the second best summer for box office numbers. But there were a few standouts this summer, so here are the top movies I actually enjoyed.

Please note that I’ve had to count April as “summer” just so I could get four for my list.

Ant-Man

I had no expectations for Ant-Man, which could be why I enjoyed it so much opposed to Age of Ultron. Paul Rudd is a charismatic actor, but a movie needs more than that to keep me entertained for two hours. Luckily Ant-Man is full of humor, sight gags and interesting action sequences. Even all the CGI didn’t bother me like it did in Ultron because Paul Rudd’s face was covered. I adored Scott’s relationship with his daughter, his grudgingness to do the wrong thing in order to do what was right and the training sequences. The only thing this movie could have done better was not force the romance between Scott and Evangeline Lily’s Hope van Dyne at the end of the film, which felt forced and unearned. Not every superhero needs to romance his badass leading lady, guys.

Mission: Impossible – Rouge Nation

The dialogue is this movie is so stupid and Tom Cruise lacks any depth whatsoever, but this movie is still fun. The stunts are amazing and the scenery is gorgeous. Though I have to admit that this film makes the list because of Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust, who not only can hold her own in a fight, but also takes off her unreasonably high heels before running, climbing or fighting someone. Practicality in a femme fatale is rare and I appreciate it so much. Simon Pegg is delightful as always and Alec Baldwin did some nice scenery chewing too. This thing isn’t going to win any awards, but I didn’t feel like I wasted my time watching it either.

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Pitch Perfect 2

It’s not as good as the first one, and it’s has some seriously problematic stereotypes it leans on for jokes, but I still laughed. The music is great and I imagine the re-watchability of this one will be nearly as high as the original. I have no idea how they’re going to shoe horn a third movie into the series, but I’ll go see it just for more of Anna Kendrick’s Beca being an awkwardly amazing badass.

Ex Machina

Technically it came out in April, but it has been one of the most enjoyable films we’ve seen this year. It’s a quiet, creepy little drama about a boy, his robot and the boy he uses to test his robot until it all falls apart in the end. All the performances from Domhnall Gleeson, Oscar Isaac and Alicia Vikander are nuanced and subtle, words rarely used with summer films. This film made me think, kept me captivated and gave me the creeps all at the same time. It really deserved more attention than it received.

The Biggest Disappointment: Age of Ultron

I have a hard time putting my issues with Age of Ultron in words that haven’t been said a million times over. It had way too much crammed into a short amount of time. Subplots of Clint and Natasha to “humanize” them left me cold and often annoyed. Thor’s jaunt into a random supernatural hot tub made absolutely no sense. The twins were little more than cyphers of supernatural abilities. It felt like something tying it all together was curled up on the cutting room floor, and I just left the theatre sad that I didn’t love it like Winter Solider or Guardians of the Galaxy. Maybe after a rewatch, it’ll sit with me better, but this was the first sign to me that the Marvel Universe had gotten too big and too unwieldy to cram all into one movie.

Other big disappointments could have been Mad Max: Fury Road or Jurassic World, but I had no expectations for those and being incredible bored (or car sick in the case of Fury Road) was unsurprising.


Looking through the movies that came out the last few months, the only one I didn’t see but could have possibly rounded out this list to a full five would have been Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. I think it looked too YA drama for Fernando to go with me, and it was only playing at our local indie theatre for two or three weeks. I look forward to seeing it when it comes out on DVD.

I’m hoping that this fall and winter will bring far more films worth my time and money. With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, The Martian and Mockingjay Part 2 still to come later this year, perhaps there will be some more blockbusters worth my time before the year is out. What films did you enjoy this summer and which ones are you looking forward to this fall? Share in the comments!

#5Fandom Friday: Crossovers That Would Make My Heart Explode

Welcome to my attempt at 5 Fandom Friday, where I try to contribute to a weekly meme but usually forget. This fun weekly postathon is hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. If you’re interested in joining up, check out future posting topics here.

This week’s topic is 5 Crossovers That Would Make My Heart Explode. It’s a classic topic of conversation in geekdom, deciding which shows or movie universes you want to smoosh together to create one epic world of insanity. I personally enjoy having my heart all in one piece inside my chest, but these are the five crossovers that would make me really happy if they were done (correctly).

The Boys of Supernatural Meet The Doctor – Supernatural Meets Doctor Who

Because I want to see Dean’s head explode when he learns not only are angels and demons real things, but so are aliens and giant space monsters. Plus he and Sam are good at running already, so they’d make handy companions to fight Cybermen.

Captain Mal and His Crew Run Across a Certain Space Rouge and Furry Co-Pilot – Firefly Meets Star Wars

I really just want to see Captain Mal and Han Solo get into a snark off while Wash stares at Chewbacca in total fear. It would be the best smugglers in space action comedy in all of existence!

The Massive Superhero Crossover No One Wants to Admit They Want – The Avengers Meets Justice League (on the big screen)

We haven’t seen Bat-fleck yet, but I think it could be fun to see Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark try to ruffle Ben Affleck’s stern-yet-cool Bruce Wayne while Superman and Captain America become besties in the background. Then Captain Marvel and Wonder Woman can swoop in and save the day because they are the best ones of all.

All the Leda Clones Run Across Two Dolls With Way Too Many Personalities – Orphan Black Meets Dollhouse

Honestly I would only want to see this if it was Dollhouse without Eliza Dushku. Can you image a half dozen Tatiana’s coming across various incarnations of Enver Gjokaj and Dichen Lachman only to find that they’re each just one person. It would be a new big bad corporation to take down and save all the dolls. It would have to retcon the end of Dollhouse, but that’s perfectly okay with me.

Agent Carter Falls Into the World of Alexia Taribotti’s Airships and Tea Parties – Agent Carter Meets The Parasol Protectorate series

For those of you not so into books, The Parasol Protectorate series is a series of books by Gail Carriger where a badass named Alexia Taribotti manages to fight monsters in a steampunk Victorian London while always making time for tea. I very much want a television series of it made right now. I also really want an Agent Carter steampunk series, so let’s just toss them together and have the most epic made-for-Leslie television show ever created.

Though if I'm completely honest, this artwork from the ever amazing Lord Mesa is all the crossover I really need. Luckily I have this print hanging by my desk every day to remind me of the potential awesomeness that could be.

So those are my five for this Fandom Friday. Which two pop culture things would you smash together to make one epic mega-awesome thing?

Trailer Park Friday: The All Superheroes All the Time Edition

No preamble. No waiting. You've probably already seen it a bajillion times, but here's the trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron. It's kind of creepy. We will be taunted about this movie until we can see it on May 1, 2015.

To balance the Marvel goodness out, lets toss in some DC action. As part of a NYCC wrapup video the comic book publisher released, they included a clip of the upcoming Justice League cartoon movie. While I dread the upcoming slaet of DC live action movies, I'm always game for an animated film. This one is called Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. It will be released on DVD and streaming sometime in early 2015.

There's also a bit about upcoming DC comics and LEGO Batman 3 in this video.

Speaking of LEGO Batman 3, I am so excited about Batman in space. WB Games released a short video talking to some of the voice talent behind the new game, including Stephen Amell (Mr. Arrow of course) and Conan O'Brien (yeah, really). It comes out November 11 and you should preorder it right now!

And finally the very first trailer for the new series version of the comic series Powers came out last week at NYCC as well. This is going to be a not-so-child-friendly comic book show that's a little more violent and "adult" than most of the comic book shows on the air. It stars Sharlto Copley (the dude from District 9) and will be streaming on the Playstation Network (which I didn't even realize was a thing...) starting in December.

 

So what do you think of the Age of Ultron trailer? Are you obsessed with the LEGO games like I am? Let me know in the comments!

Random Tuesday: Audiobook Deals, Science Fiction of the Future, Lois Lane & More

Everyone has seen Guardians of the Galaxy by now, haven't they? I mean, if I posted the piece of news that I found that has been the highlight for the last couple of days, it wouldn't really be a spoiler, would it? Hmm... perhaps I will save it for last.

io9 pulled together a list of 100 comics coming out this fall and my bank account cried.

I've been spending a bit more time on Pinterest lately. That's how I know there are book vending machines at the Stockholm airport. Very cool.

Lev Grossman, author of The Magicians series, wrote a little thing about how fantasy has taken over the mainstream for Time magazine.

Books best read if you know nothing about them, according to Bookish.com.

This article is a few months old, but it's a good one. Smithsonian magazine put together an article about how modern science fiction authors are inspiring inventors and possibly affecting the future.

Donald Glover will be voicing Miles Morales on The Amazing Spider-Man cartoon on Disney XD. The internet is very excited.

Jeremy Renner said that Hawkeye might play a bigger role in Captain America 3. This makes me very excited.

Gwenda Bond is writing a YA novel about Lois Lane that will come out next May, which is just AWESOME! It sounds like a good vehicle to introduce YA fans to a comic character that has always deserved more attention.

Amazon and Audible have 100 audio books for sale right now. Get them at a discount while it lasts!

And that spoilerish GotG thing I mentioned at the top? Funko announced they were going to be releasing this late in the year.

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Random Tuesday: The Shorter Version With More Cloud Cities

So my favorite worlds are generally in the steampunk realm, but my second type of city setting is most definitely cloud cities. Click here for a bunch of cloud city concept art, including the gorgeous pic above by DeviantArt user ~aksu

I've seen four of these recommended 13 independent fantasy/science fiction films with many others already on my Netflix queue, and I would recommend each one of them. The entire list by the ladies at The Mary Sue is a good primer for those looking to see science fiction and fantasy movies outside of giant blockbusters.

What would the newstands look like if the Avengers were real?

This week in Science is Amazing - the UK is on its way to approving three parent fertility treatments to help prevent mitochondrial diseases.

Could the first attack in the impending Robopocalypse have already happened? (The answer is no, but it's still interesting to see early robotics and their consequences)

Because there has been a severe lack of ninjas around here lately - io9's choice of the top 13 best female ninjas in pop culture.

Fernando really wants these Game of Thrones Lego characters. I think Lego should hire this guy to create an entire line of Game of Thrones Legos, but I suppose it's not the most child-friendly of entertainment properties.

 

What random things caught your attention this week? Link 'em up in the comments.

Trailer Park Friday: It's Up Front Week Which Means NEW TELEVISION SHOWS!

If you stop by regularly, you will have noticed that I've been really off schedule. I blame home improvement project bleeding into the work week and a weird sort of eye infection thing that made extra time on a computer uncomfortable, but things are winding down so hopefully I'll be around more regularly.

This week was Up Front Week. For those of you not obsessed with television like me, it means this was the week when all the networks previewed their new shows for the fall and midseason. Now I can obsessively plan the ridiculous amount of television I will watch in the near future. Here are some of the shows I'm most eagerly anticipating.

First up is the show I am most excited about watching and I can't imagine the trailer not being at Comic Con. That would be, of course, ABC's Agents of SHIELD and it has lots of Coulson awesomeness to go around.

Continuing with ABC, there is Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, which has an awful title that made me incredibly leery of this Once Upon a Time spin off. Then I watched the trailer and it actually looks really entertaining despite it's Suckerpunch-esque conceit. Plus Alice looks like she might be able to handle herself when in trouble, which is always nice to see.

Resurrection looks like a movie, not a series. I don't know how you expand this into a long running series, but it may be worth a viewing.

Now to Fox. They really only have one show that I'm excited about, but I'm REALLY excited about it. Karl Urban + android sidekick = HELL YES! Unfortunately it won't come on until mid-season. It's called Almost Human and makes me very happy.

The CW is packing their schedule with more sci-fi and urban fantasy shows since that's what keeps the lights on over there. Here is a scene from The Tomorrow People for all of you who needs more Arnell in your life beyond Arrow as it stars that Arnell's cousin, Robbie Arnell. It doesn't look like anything new, but it does look kind of cool for second tier network television.

Another CW show, this one is called Star Crossed and is essentially about insanely attractive aliens with facial tattoos getting integrated into a high school. Enevitably the hottest alien boy will fall for the most attractive human female and it'll be some badly veiled metaphor for acceptance. I just hope it's better than the movie version of I Am Number Four.

The CW has a couple of other new shows that sound interesting. Unfortunately the clip for The 100 - about a ship of 100 deliquents being returned to a post-apocalyptic world after 100 years - looks pretty bland. The others are midseason shows and don't have clips available yet (or at least that I've been able to find).

I'm not exactly CBS' target audience and I find most of the shows that have some sort of trigger that may appeal to me eventually become boring and flat. But there is one show coming up in midseason that looks pretty cool and not just because Josh Holloway is going to star in it. He is some sort of spy with uber crazy robot intelligence and of course he's a badass. This show is uncreatively called Intelligence.

And finally there is NBC, which is filling it's slate with cop dramas and horribly generic comedies. They do, however, have Dracula, which looks like it would be much better on pay cable and probably won't last on network television, but I will most likely enjoy the hell out of it while it's around.

There are a bajillion other new shows coming out in the fall. EW has great coverage and all the new trailers and clips. What new show are you most excited about seeing in the fall?

Fernando's Favorite Movies of 2012

I am not a huge fan of lists, so this is not a top 5. The following movies are the movies that I enjoyed the most in each respective genre. I have split up the genres into Comic Book, Drama, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, and Action. This year was full of great movies and some moves that could be in multiple genres, but I chose the best fit for each category. 

Best Comic Book Movie

Marvel's The Avengers was hands down the best comic book movie of the year. This year had some good choices. The Dark Knight and The Amazing Spider-Man were both noteworthy. However, The Avengers manages to accomplish the perfect balance of fanboy lip service and general audience acceptance. This delicate balance was combined with Joss Weadon's gift of ensemble cast writing. The Avengers is action packed, filled with smart dialoged, and has a plot that never drags and most importantly: Hullk SMASH. 

Best Drama Movie

I called it long ago when I saw the trailer for Steven Speilberg's Lincoln. Lincoln did not disappoint. It was a flawless Daniel Day Lewis performance and a supporting cast that helps breathe life into this period movie. Spielberg paints a picture that few other directors would have been able to capture. Lincoln is a movie that will live on as a staple of both Abraham Lincoln's life and the end of the Civil War. 

Best Sci-fi Movie

Looper was a huge surprise that should not have been. Looper is a smart time travel movie that doesn’t ignore the viewer's intelligence. This movie seems like it would be action packed, and it is, but the action is not the main draw-the plot and the two heroes are. Both Joseph Gordon Levitt and Bruce Willis deliver fantastic performances that help bring the audience into this world, where time travel is used to kill the mob’s garbage. 

Best Supernatural Movie

Another surprise this year was Chronicle. This low budget movie demonstrates that a good plot does not need a big budget. The story of high school acceptance told though the lens of three high school boys who get supernatural powers shows the audience the dangers of misused power and the addiction that comes from that. This movie manages to blend high school angst, sharp supernatural effects and action without sacrificing story. 

Best Action Movie

Skyfall - Daniel Craig has been rebuilding the Bond legacy and this movie culminates all those efforts. Skyfall brings back the iconic James Bond character without all of the cheese and laughable action sequences that plague many of the other Bond movies. In the end the audience is left with a hero that is flawed, aged, and magnanithemous. I hope that the James Bond movies to come employ even half of the intelligence, action and humanity that was in this one.