Looking back at 2015.

Hey guys, Naru here, and for those of you who apply to the same calendar that I do, happy new year! To those of you in China, happy mid-year. You rock too. Anyway, I didn’t really have any special plans for the first post of the new year, so I figured I’d just fire from the hip and talk about some of the things I watched last year that stood out to me. I won’t be talking about anime in this video, but just for the hell of it, I’ll tell you at the end what I bought from that legendary Rightstuf holiday sale. Because that site has so much of my money right now, not gonna lie.

I won’t be talking about the movies that didn’t have much of an impact on me, or that I don’t have a lot to say about… Movies like Spy, which was great and you should totally see it, and Ex Machina, which was easily one of the best of the year, won’t be getting much of a mention. Leaving the good movies behind, I also won’t be mentioning 50 Shades of Grey, Spongebob: Sponge Out of Water, or the incredibly depressing Hot Tub Time Machine 2, although I did suffer through each of them. Also, thanks to my less-than-reliable memory, they won’t be in perfect order.

To start, there were three movies that I saw purely for the sake of getting a so-bad-it’s-good experience… The first one was Left Behind, which technically hit theaters in 2014, but I saw it in early 2015. I thought… How could this not be awesome? You’ve got crazy Nicholas Cage playing the role of crazy Kirk Cameron! This should be like watching a hot dog eat a hamburger! But alas, the movie just turned out to be completely boring and lifeless, and even the legendary Cage just looked dead inside the whole time.

Luckily, the next two turned out to be way more satisfying. you’ve probably heard by now how much of a train wreck Jupiter Ascending was, and yeah, it was awesome. It made no sense, the story was ridiculously terrible, and to boot, everything about it… Fucking everything… Was either lazily stupid or completely over the top. I hadn’t laughed that hard at a bad movie since Ninja Turtles the year before. Then, on DVD much later in the year, I got some friends together to drink and watch Avengers Grimm on DVD. It was an Asylum movie, so you can already guess what it was like. Five fairy tail heroines fighting against Rumplestiltskin, and each of them has a super power, like Rapunzel being able to trip people with her hair and Sleeping Beauty putting people to sleep with date-rape dust.. Highly recommended for drinking to.

Then there was The Voices… Dear god there was The Voices. It’s another movie from 2014, but since I saw the DVD in 2015, I still really want to say something about this movie. It was recommended to me via the selling point that it was proof that Ryan Reynolds could play Deadpool, and yeah, it does that… The performances were great, but what stood out to me the most was just how deeply, disturbingly misogynistic the movie was. Oh yeah, big surprise, right? A movie about a serial killer who murders four women being misogynistic. Well, it didn’t have to be. The first three murders he commits were framed as not being entirely his fault, with each one being caused by the woman doing something she shouldn’t have done, such as over-reacting and breaking into his apartment against his will. The final one, the only one that was totally his fault, he was killing the fat woman for no good reason. hell, there’s a male character he had more negative interqctions with, shouldn’t he have killed him instead? But now, gotta punish the fat woman for being unfuxkable, right? And of course, he didn’t know or understand what he was doing. The whole movie frames his actions the same way people try to defend rapists. It bothered me. It really bothered me.

I’ll give a quick mention to Insiurgent, which I had high hopes for. I actually liked Divergent, as mediocre as it was, as it had several good qualities that stood out to me through all of the bad. Insurgent didn;t really have these qualities… The acting nd set pieces were still good, but the story was a lot less memorable, and it was WAY too long. There were at least four places where it could have ended, to save on pacing. I’ll still see Allegiant, of course, which is thank God going to be only one movie, which sadly wasn’t the case for the new Hunger Games movie, although it also suffered painful pacing issues. It followed the book faithfully, and even improved on it in many ways, but it still fell far short of the nearly perfect second movie and the tonally consistent third movie. Jennifer Lawrence is still amazing, though. I would love to see Katniss Everdeen in a Death Battle gainst either Triss Prior or Kazuo Kiriyama from Battle royal, but that’s not much of a relevant thought.

I’ve seen some really good horror movies over the last few years… The Conjuring was great despite being based on true bullshit, The Babadook was outstanding, and now, there’s It Follows, a movie that… like all horror movies should be… Is abouit something most viewers won’t pick up on. The Babadook was about depression and mental illnesses, and It Follows was about sexual anxiety and slut shaming. But even beyond that, it sets a really scary tone, and the monster featured in it feels like a legitimately terrifying threat. They weren’t just trying too hard to be creepy, like Insidious(better title; Insipid), but It Follows will follow you all the way home from the theater… Or, you know, from the DVD player back to wherever you go afterwards. *I* saw it in theaters, at least.

I also saw Get Hard on DVD… Well, the first twenty minutes or so. It wasn’t funny, and I didn’t care about anybody in it. It might have been more interesting if Will Ferrell had actually been guilty… well, it would have made him more of an interesting character… But it wouldn’t have made up for all of the bafflingly dumb dialogue, and people acting like no human beings ever. I made it farther into The Green hornet than I did into this movie. I’m no fan of Will Ferrell… Or his bare ass… But it kills me to see people I genuinely love like Alison Brie and Kevin Hart reduced to this idiotic script. Sorry, Kevin Hart… You’re a brilliant comedian, but you need to make better movie choices.

And now, we have three giant movies. Two movies I was exploding with anticipation over, and one that people seemed generally worried about. Starting with Avengers: Age of ultron, I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t that great either. It had the action I wanted, the characters I wanted, and some legitimately awesome moments, but it was still far inferior to the first movie. The jokes were mostly bad, there were too many quips, and it felt much more like a Joss Whedon script than the first one did. Maybe there was just too much going on for him to handle? Well, the Hawkeye stuff still made me really happy to see, and I even kinda like the romance between Hulk and Widow. And yeah, the tension building between Iron Man and Cap’n made me really want to see Civil War.

Jurassic World was just a miserable experience for me. If you’ve seen any videos about it, from honest trailers to Cinemasins to Nostalgic Critic’s review, you know pretty much how I feel about it. The CGI sucked, Indominus Rex was disappointing, and I hated almost all of the characters, whose introductions were just painful. I still loved the ending, where the T-rex and the Raptor teamed up agqinst a common enemy, then left each other alone out of respect. It made no sense(which was par for the course by that point), but it was some serious gangster shit.

Then you have Mad Max, Fury Road. Holy shit this movie was awesome. Not only was it beautifully shot and full of intense action, but it had themes and messages below the surface that you could dig down into if you really wanted to. It got a lot of shit for being a feminist movie, which I think is pretty damn reductive… It’s left wing propaganda in general. It criticized the military, capitalism, AND the patriarchal aspect of western society in some really clever ways. The military is seen as brainwashed, single-minded pawns who’ve been promised an eternal reward from a lying one percenter who just wants them to do his dirty work, women are literally used for breeding and milking… And my favorite moment in the entire movie was where Immortan joe explained his reason for giving out limited daily water, and it sounded exactly like a rich person’s views on charity. now, is propaganda bad? not necessarily. The Dark Knight trilogy was obviously right wing propaganda, but it was still awesome. The third one was a’ight. I saw Mad Max 3.5 times in theaters(don’t ask), and I now own it on Blu-ray.

Lightning round! I originally saw Antman as an alternative to Fant4stic, which I kinda wanted to see out of curiosity, but decided I’d seen enough shit lately, so I should watch something good instead. It was pretty fun, but not the smartest movie ever. The Visit was a lot of fun too, and it was really weird to legitimately enjoy a Shyamalan movie again. Anything you can walk away from smiling, am I right? I saw Kung Fury and Zombeavers on a drunken movie night with some friends, and while I blacked out through Kung Fury, I thought Zombeavers was awesome. I love it when movies spend an obviously high budget on looking as cheap as possible, and the puppets made my heart laugh just as much as my face. You should see Zombeavers.

Trainwreck was my favorite comedy of the year, unless you’re going by Golden globes’ standards on what a comedy is. It’s the movie that I laughed the hardest at, and yet at the same time, it brought me close to tears at several moments. Amy Schumer is a fabulous writer and actor, and she imbued this movie with a lot of humanity and humility to balance out the journey of her flawed, but still loveable character. She’s on fire right now, and her movie is very clear proof as of why. I’d be backing this movie for Best Comedy at the Globes, if it wasn’t for…

The Martian, which I would have personally registered as Best Drama. While my favorite movies of the year are Mad Max and another that I’ll be getting to shortly, The Martian is by far the best movie I’ve seen this year, in terms of over-all quality. There are very few actors who can carry a movie for long stretches of time by themselves, with Will Smith in the otherwise bad I Am Legend and Ryan Reynolds in buried as great examples, and Matt Damn is an obvious addition to that list. It was a very uplifting movie about the compassion and endurance of humanity, as well as of the explosive tragedy that even the smallest of errors can create. It’s not my favorite of the year, but if either of my favorites win an award that The Martian was nominated for, I’ll still feel as though it got robbed.

Speaking of awards, does anybody else love The Razzies? Because there’s little else I enjoy more than guessing which movies will be seen as bad enough to make that yearly cinematic shit list. I never saw Fant4stic, and I also never saw the colossal box office bomb Jen and the holograms, and I’m probably not going to ever see The Ridiculous Six… But I did see Adam Sandler’s OTHER big stinker of the year, Pixels. Good God there was nothing remotely good about this movie. Modern Sandler movies are either ego trips, literal trips with friends, or both, and Pixels falls into the first category, as he plays a chubby shlubb who, after years of gaming, is better at shooting alien weapons than the fucking military. I could go on, but you’ve already heard how terrible this is from everybody who’s seen it, so I won’t waste your time any further. I’m just glad his fame is falling faster than his box office numbers.

You already know my thoughts on Goosebumps and it’s deceptively awful trailer, but the circumstances behind my review might still be interesting, so I’ll talk about that instead. When I’m doing a theme month, I like to have all relevant posts done in advance. This is the case with last year’s horror month, no longer under the embarassing title Otakutober. I had all the posts done, but then I saw Goosebumps, and realized… to my surprise… I had a lot to say about it, so I threw off convention and wrote a review. I wound up moving my final review for that month, Vampire Knight, into november, as I wanted to review goosebumps while it was still relevant in theaters, as well as in the month it was made for. This came with an even more awkward situation, as I finished Soul Eater soon afterwards, and the final review of the month was the only one left, and I suddenly really wanted to review that, too. I couldn’t justify bumping goosebumps into november, so that’s why the Soul Eater review wound up getting posted in December. I didn’t want to hold onto it for a year, and at the same time, I like posting higher-profile posts that month anyway.

There were two animated movies I saw in 2015, one in theaters, and one on DVD, and both within a week from each other. Inside Out was one of many movies last year that had aeful trailers that made me want to hate everything, so I never saw it in theaters… I saw it on DVd, and it was so amazing that I bought the DVD a day later. Disney’s been having something of a modern renaissance lately, while Pixar’s been putting out a lot of mediocre shit, so it’s a huge surprise that they put out the best Disney movie I’ve seen since Wall-E, while Disney’s been getting sinking reviews with The Good Dinosaur. Everyone’s already made the joke about “What if our feelings had feelings?” But getting past that, the emotions in this movie were gripping and very relateable. I loved Riley and her parents, so seeing them go through all of this turmoil felt real to me. I also loved the message at the end, that you can’t shy away from negative feelings… Sadness is sad, but it’s also a necessary element of humanity. I guess in many ways, Pixar’s just a more mature company than Disney is.

It’s an easy choice for Best Animated feature, which is a shame, because I really loved Peanuts. It’s really refreshing to see a movie about a nostalgic franchise that doesn’t try to update or modernize itself. Nothing could have consoled me if Snoopy had started rapping like Alvin and the Smurfs did. What we got instead was a heart-warming Slice-of-Life tale about Charlie Brown trying to work through his issues with self worth to gain the attention of the Little Red Headed Girl, all while having horrible luck all the way. The CG graphics could have been a disaster, but they incorporated it better into the original art style than I think anybody could have expected. Was it perfect? No. The Snoopy fantasies went on for too long, there were way too many huge time skips, and it was actually too positive in it’s portrayal of Charlie Brown’s life. I liked seeing his actions gain the favor of his crush, but did the movie have to end with every single kid in town relenting and calling him awesome? A more bittersweet ending would have been a better fit. Still, I’ll probably watch it again.

There’s only one legit movie left on my list, but before we get to that, let’s look at some other stuff. I saw a documentary this year called Amy, about the trials and tribulations of now legendary jazz musician Amy Winehouse. It’s hard to go into a movie like this seriously, seeing the kind of joke she’s become since her untimely death a few years ago, but even if you’ve made every joke in the book about her, you’ll come away from this movie with a newfound respect for her talent and the overwheming power of addiction and dependency.

As far as TV shows go, I finally binge-watched the entire series of Daria, which has since become one of my favorite shows of all time. I later got into Netflix’s Jessica Jones, which I really enjoyed… But like everyone else, I do have my gripes with it. You’ve already heard that it kind of failed in it’s portrayal of a rape backstory, and that the execution was shaky, and that they took the tragic depth out of Killgrave’s character, but what you probably haven’t heard about is just how stupid this show was. The villain had the power of mind control, that being that he could convince anybody to do his bidding just by saying what he wanted, and early on, I was like “Okay, wear headphones around him. How about earplugs?” But I figured that at some point in her captivity, Jones must have tried it, and knows it wouldn’t work. Fine.

But then we got to the end,. and a character used the headphones strategy to trick him. Oh, so this IS something that works? It IS something Jessica is capable of coming up with? That’s not possible. If not hearing him worked, then in that one flashback moment where he let her in control of herself, she could have just plugged her ears and went “LALALALALA” and walked out of the building. Also, they needed a cop who could credibly back up their story about his powers? What about the one who tried to strangle her friend? Is he not credible enough? How about that messaqge about not getting to decide whether or not people deserve to die, which… Turned into a complete mess in more ways than one. Well, at least I loved the tone, dialogue and acting enough to stay interested. I enjoyed it over-all.

In terms of video games, I loved Fallout 4, Splatoon, and The Last of Us. Arkham Knight kinda sucked. I never played the new Battlefront, but I did laugh my ass off at the anger from the people who did. I have a friend who payed 120 dollars for the release game and the season pass, then sold it less than a week later to another friend of mine for forty dollars, who then traded it in less than a week later for thirty dollars. It’s basically Star Wars Battlefront: It’s a Trap Edition. At least I’ve been having a lot of fun with Fallout 4, which I bought at release price, and Splatoon, which I bought for 25 dollars on black Friday, and I’ve been happily playing both ever since. The addition of Cloud to Smash Brothers gave me an extra few hours of Smash play, and that’s about it.

And finally, we get to my other favorite movie of last year… Star Wars, The Force Awakens. This movie didn’t have to be good. In factm, it had every excuse in the book to suck. I initially wasn’t too excited about it because it was announced that Disney was de-canonizing the expanded universe. I wasn’t going to boycott it like Days of Future Past, but I wasn’t excited about it, either. I was especially worried about the fact that it was released under a review embargo, just like Fant4stic(yikes!). But when the reviews came rolling in, and it looked to be universally positive, I realized I had to bump up my chedule andwatch it as soon as possible.

I loved everything about this movie, even the things that weren’t so good, like the CGI on the big baddy, and Finn’s successive list of epic fails. In terms of both acting and writing, I honestly think that the new character Rey is an even better main character than Luke Skywalker was in the first movie. Her character is completely realized, makes perfect sense considering where she grew up, and nothing about her feels random or gratuitous. I hated female characters like Gomorrah from Guardians of the Galaxy and Neytirih from Avatar, who are basically just kick-ass and strong because the male main characters need something sexy and impressive to conquer. Rey is strong and a good fighter because she grew up in an environment where you have to be exactly that in order to survive, and her style of fighting perfectly matches her body type and physical attributes.

The villain feels powerful and threatening, even if he looked like a pansy the first time he took off his mask… Yeah, he looks kinda goofy and awkward, but that’s part of what makes his grasp of the dark side feel so real. He looks like the kind of person who would turn to a life of evil to make up for his own short-comings in life. He had a tangible need that the dark side was able to fill. Everyone had great chemistry, the new robot was a fitting addition to R2 and 3PO, and I had a blast giving people fake spoilers just to troll them. There were a lot of callbacks to the first movie, which plenty of people have been complaining about, and I understand where they’re coming from… Several plot points and moments feel way too familiar. But hey, after what the prequels did, going back to square one is an understandable choice. It’s not a perfect film, but hey, that’s what we have The Martian for.

Over-all, though, I just can’t believe that there are two… Not one, but TWO… Outstanding female lead characters that came out of this year’s theater offerings. Maybe more, I don’t know, I didn’t see every movie, but I am so glad that Furiosa and Rey exist, and there’s even a handful of interesting parallels between them. They’re both interesting, developed characters with agency and, when you think about it, more relevance to their respective stories than their male co-stars. I wouldn’t show Mad Max to a kid, but if you’re okay with showing Force Awakens to your own tot… It is PG-13, but every parent has different values… They’re going to get one hell of a female role model out of Rey. Hell, with Inside Out teaching kids(and adults) to accept and be honest about their emotions, and Peanuts teaching them that good positive behavior is it’s own reward even if it feels hard at the moment, there were quite a few movies this year that I would highly recommend parents show their children, which is just a small part of what I thought was a mostly positive year for movies in general.
And that’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed this trip back through 2015, and it’s time for me to close this post out with a list of my Rightstuf purchases!

Kill Me Baby, complete Series
Girls Und Panzer, complete series
Fate/Kaleid liner P{risma ilya, complete series
Fushigi Yugi, season 1
Zoo
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU, complete series
HOTD: Drifters of the Dead
Toriko collection 1
Familiar of Zero, season 1
Berserk Griffith plushie
Penguindrum collection 1
Oreimo, season 1 and OVAs
Kill La Kill Ryuko keychain
Vampire Hunter D Artbook
Toradora Taiga plushie
Agent Aika
Indian Summer OVA
Hellsing DVD 4 + bonus figure
Sound of the Sky, complete series
Angel Sanctuary OVA
Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen, complete series
Gyo: Tokyo Fish Attack
Super Milk-chan DVD 2
Squid girl parts 1 and 2
Medaka box, complete series
Maria holic, season 1
Early Reigns OVA
Di Gi Charat, complete series
Durarara, novel 1

Thanks for stopping by, I have no life, and have a great 2016!

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4 comments
  1. I finally got round to watching Star Wars a few hours ago. I really enjoyed it too. Can’t wait for the next installment.

  2. My mom dragged me to Jurassic World. I was planning on rewatching the original Jurassic Park at least since I haven’t seen it since I was a kid and remember almost nothing about it. Neither of us liked it, and we just left confused by the ending and certain plot points. I liked Inside Out, but I really love how Peanuts didn’t try to be “kewl” to reach modern audiences.

    And I’m jealous of all your RightStuf purchases!

  3. Going back to Jurassic Park is always worth the time. Also, I might be the only person who still loves the second one.

    I can’t wait for Peanuts to hit DVD, just so I can see the dancing in the closing credits again.

    Also, don’t be jealous… If I had a life, I wouldn’t have time to watch all that anime. XD

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