Recap of movies in 2015

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There some movies that surprised us both good and bad. Some of the movies that we had expected to make millions at the box office, underperformed, like Mockingjay part 2, Fantastic Four, and Pan. The good surprises came from The Martian, Straight Outta Compton, and Creed. Each movie had expectations that were made and had a lot of pressure to meet those expectations. The best movies that came out this year were the reboot Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Not a big surprise there.

Jurassic World may have surprised some people with its success, but when you add dinosaurs with Chris Pratt, it’s only expected to be successful. The best part is that they redeemed the T-Rex from the first movie (sorry spoiler alert for the five people who haven’t seen it) and were able to get the fans to root for the raptors (BLUE!). Star Wars: The Force Awakens was easily the most anticipated movie of the year and thankfully it lived up to expectations. The movie was able to relate to this generation fans while paying homage to the fans that have loved the series since the 70’s. It’s a timeless story that we will get to see unfold for years to come.

It was a good year for the female director. Both Elizabeth Banks and Sam Taylor-Johnson. Banks, who directed Pitch Perfect 2, and Taylor-Johnson, who directed Fifty Shades of Grey, proved that female directors can make a movie just as good (if not better) as a man can do. They are going to set the road for other female directors in the future. It was the year that women fought for equality in Hollywood which got a lot of attention after Sony’s emails leaked and Jennifer Lawrence wrote a letter in Lena Dunham’s newsletter about how she was underpaid compared to the other actors in the movie American Hustle.

Things are going to be competitive next year with a lot of big name movies set to come out, especially from the comic book universe. There are eight movies set to come out from DC Comics or Marvel. The biggest one is coming in the Spring where Batman V. Superman will face off against Captain America: Civil War at the box office. Captain America has been getting a lot of hype with all the cameos that are expected (plus the introduction of the new Spider-man) but Batman V. Superman is hoping to get the same attention as it tries to match points with Marvel.

Below is the top ten movies that came out in 2015. You can view the total box office for all the movies that came out in 2015 by going here.

10. Spy

Starring: Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne, Jason Statham, Jude Law
Box office: $110.8 million

One of those not-so-big surprise movies that did well at the box office. The surprise was see Jason Statham in comedic role. He shows that he can be more than just someone who can kill you with his bare hands. But now he can do it so that you want to want to laugh as he does it.

9. Cinderella

Starring: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgard

Box office: $201.1 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/cinderella-an-enchanting-story-that-pays-homage-to-the-classic

Another surprise, but shouldn’t have been surprisingly, hit from Disney. Cinderella saved Disney in the 1950’s, and maybe once again in movies of this generation. They were able to prove that they can do more than just theme parks and animated movies, but live movies as well.

8. Mockingjay part 2

Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Donald Sutherland

Box office: $259.3 million (still in theaters)

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/prepare-to-be-blown-away-by-the-hunger-games-finale-mockingjay-pt-2

One of the most anticipated movies of the year may have not reached the expectations at the box office, but it was certainly a satisfying ending for the fans. Yes there were things that things that we wish could have been different, but it still left the fans with the resolution that we wanted.

7. Furious 7

Starring: Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriguez

Box office: $353 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/review-furious-7-one-last-ride-for-paul-walker

This was a bittersweet movie for the fans of the series. We got to say good-bye to Paul Walker while honoring him in his last movie. The movie made everyone cried during the credits (you are lying if you say you didn’t). But more than that, it reminded us that there is more to life than fast cars and money, but friendship and family. Which has been a theme for the movie since day one.

6. Trainwreck

Starring: Amy Schumer, Brie Larson, Bill Hader

Box office: $110 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/amy-schumer-proves-she-s-no-trainwreck

Amy Schumer was one of the many ‘it’ girls of this year. She not only did well with her comedy tour, but her show on Comedy Central as well, winning her first Golden Globe this year. The movie was a hit as well with the fans as it was a nice change of pace to see the roles reversed in this romantic comedy as she is able to relate to not only females, but males as well as both sides struggle with finding love.

5. Inside Out

Starring: Amy Poehler, Phyllis Smith, Mindy Kaling, Bill Hader

Box office: $356 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/inside-out-gives-you-a-bad-case-of-the-feels

Yet another Pixar classic. This movie once again reminds us why Pixar is the master at creating animated movies. They know how to reach deep down inside of you, grab your heart, and rip right out in such a way that has you thanking them for doing it. The movie touched on depression in children, which is relevant to the kids in today’s world.

4. Pitch Perfect 2

Starring: Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, Brittany Snow

Box office: $184.4 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/pitch-perfect-2-bellas-prove-that-sequels-can-be-as-good-as-the-original

This was a surprise his, for me at least. I was weary with the sequel as many people are with movies that they love (look at the sequel for Mean Girls). Sometimes trying to capture lightening in a bottle twice can leave you burned. This time it worked out for the girls and it may have a lot to do with Elizabeth Banks as the director. She kept the focus on the girls and the music. The movie had a lot of heart and of course those pesky quotes that we like to integrate to everyday life.

3. The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Starring: Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson

Box office: $459 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/review-the-avengers-age-of-ultron-bigger-and-better-then-the-first

The Avengers changed the way that superhero movies are made and it did it again in this movie. The stakes were higher, but the movie was able to reach all the stakes with no problem. While the movie may not have done as well as the first one (with all the records that one broke) it did well with the fans, and that’s really where it counts.

2. Jurassic World

Starring: Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vincent D’Onofrio

Box office: $652.2 million

Review: http://www.examiner.com/review/jurassic-world-is-a-fun-ride-that-everyone-will-enjoy

Initially, fans of the original Jurassic Park were nervous about the reboot. With good reason. Have you seen the history of reboots? This movie was able to prove that yes, sometimes reboots are a great idea. Especially when that reboot has Chris Pratt. He was this year’s ‘it’ boy for movies and proved that with his role in this movie. It did so well that is was able to get a sequel in the works so prepare for more Chris Pratt and dinosaurs.

1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Starring: Adam Driver, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Harrison Ford

Box office: $391 million (still in theaters)

Everyone in the world and their mother went to see this movie. At least once. Some more than others. People camped out weeks in advance so that they could get the best seat in the theater, all wanting to be one of the first ones to see the movie. And they were not disappointed. The movie sits as one of the highest ratings of the series and looks like it sparked a new generation of fans for the series.

What was your favorite movie from this year

 

Review: ‘Mockingjay pt 2’ – Katniss prepares the rebels for the final battle with Snow

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The time is finally upon where we get to see the finale of the world-wide phenomenon The Hunger Games. Mockingjay Part 2 has promised to tie up all the loose ends that the series has created and give us a feeling of peace as the war between Katniss and Snow takes head. There is a final battle between what is right and wrong as we get to see who the real people are of these characters that we have come to known.

There is no right or wrong way to begin this review. As a fan of the book, it’s hard to separate the feelings of what you expect and what actually shows up on the screen. Of course, there are going to be differences. It’s hard to make an adaptation and have every single thing from the book in it. With the final book being split into two movies, they had the luxury of time to really tell the ending of the story. Like with Harry Potter, it was a good decision.

The final movie, while it focused a lot on the war, also showed the ugly side of it. Countless lives are lost, both those of the war and innocent ones. As Katniss gets knee deep into the war, she finds that she sees the true character of those around her and it makes her question everything that she knows. It is time of turmoil that people’s true colors appear.

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The story takes center stage, as it should. It touches on a lot of issues that we have in our world today. This movie once again proves just why it should be watched and understood fully. Yes, it has its moments of ‘cinematic adventure’ but don’t let that overshadow the point of the story. It’s meant to make us see how self-destructive we can be towards each other and the kind of disastrous world it can be with war. It’s imperative now more than ever to take the theme of this movie to heart and really embrace it.

Jennifer Lawrence and Josh Hutcherson once again step up their games in this movie. By far, it was Hutcherson’s best acting in a movie I have ever seen. We got to see the character of Peeta transform from that caring, sweet, beautiful soul into a broken shamble mess. What makes it so perfect is that it’s not over the top. It’s the right kind of torment that we see in the book and your heart breaks as he tries to figure out who he is. Lawrence of course, is flawless as Katniss. It is a role she was born to play and once again proves why she was the perfect cast for the movie.

There were other glimmer spotlights for a lot of the other actors in the film. Sam Claflin had a very heartbreaking scene in the movie as Finnick and Jena Malone steals the few scenes that she is in. Donald Sutherland, like Lawrence, proves why he is a perfect cast as Snow and becomes that villain that we all hate.

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Director Francis Lawrence outdoes himself in this movie with the CGI and graphics. Of course this movie has all those amazing things, but Lawrence does a great job at mixing the backstory in with what’s going on right now. He is able to give the story a full circle feel. You get to see the story from all angles and there is no emphasis one part of the story over the other. He uses images to show the story instead of just words, even though author Suzanne Collins’s words are beautiful.

You would be hard-pressed to find a series that is as powerful as this one is. This one isn’t just about the entertainment of things blowing up, but more about the story. The movie is far beyond just a story of a young girl volunteering to save her sister, but more about standing up for what’s right and never accepting anything less.

Mockingjay Part 2 stars Jennifer Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson, Donald Sutherland, Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Sam Claflin, Willow Shields, Jena Malone, Natalie Dormer, and Elden Henson and is rated PG-13. You can view the movie in IMAX theaters and regular theaters everywhere.

What did you think of the movie?

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Two new clips for ‘Mockingjay pt 2’ have been released

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With the final movie in the world wide phenomenon, Mockingjay pt 2, set to come out in about two weeks, we are starting to get new footage from the movie in preparation. The promotion tour is officially under way as the movie begins its release tour and two new clips have been released on the movie’s YouTube page to help hold fans over (or make them more anxious).

In the first clip, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is talking with Johanna (Jena Malone) about how she is ready for action. Johanna, of course, has been ready to go back to war ever since she got saved from the Capital and got to District 13. Now that she has her energy, she’s even more prepared.

In the second clip, it’s a lot softer as Katniss and Peeta are talking about what they did to him. If you’ve read the book, you know how important this scene is to their relationship and there are very subtle hints to what it’s like now that he’s back. Peeta explains how they turned his memories of her against him and got him to want to kill her. We get that first glimpse of the ‘Real, not real’ game they created and it’s pretty much a word for word adaptation from the book. Fans of the world rejoice to this news.

All the images and footage we have seen from the movie have shown that it’s very much going to be a final battle between Katniss and Snow (Donald Sutherland). What Francis Lawrence has been able to do is keep to the heart of the story while enticing them to keep coming back from more. We all know (whether or not you have read the books) that this movie is going to be a powerful one that you are going to be talking about for days and hopefully it will make splitting the final book into two parts worth it.

The tickets for the final movie are already on sale and are expected to sell out at many theaters. The series has already made $1.1 billion worldwide and is expected to set new records when it comes out later this month. If it didn’t have to compete against the new Star Wars movie, it would likely have been the movie of the year.

Mockingjay pt 2 stars Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth, Hutcherson, Malone, and Sutherland and is set to come out November 20th with a special 8pm showing on November 19th at select theaters.

What do you think of the clips?

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“Mockingjay” moves past “Guardians” to become highest grossing film in 2014

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It is official. The third movie of the Hunger Games series, Mockingjay pt 1, has moved to the top of the box office chart for 2014, beating out Guardians of the Galaxy. Lionsgate announced Wednesday that Mockingjay pt 1 now has earned $333.2 million moving just past Guardians which only had $333.1 million.

With Mockingjay grabbing the top spot for 2014, it set two more records. This marks the first time that a franchise held the top spot at the box office for consecutive years. The second movie, Catching Fire, was the top grossing movie in 2013 with $424 million. The series will have a hard time to three-peat as 2015 is going to be a tough year to win with the latest Star Wars, Avengers, and Fast and Furious movies coming out this year.

This also marked a record for a female-lead box office. The last time a female lead the top selling movie was in 1973 with the Exorcist which starred Ellen Burstyn. Jennifer Lawrence not only did it in 2013 but again in 2014. And while the series is going to have a stuff competition for the final movie of the series, it’s still going to be one of the top movies of 2015.

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While the movie broke those records, it’s still the lowest box office out of the three movies in the series and likely will remain there. The first Hunger Games was able to take in $408 million in 2012 but, like this year, had tough competition. It had to compete against The Avengers and the last of the Dark Knight series, The Dark Knight rises.

As a reward for the loyal fans, Lionsgate announced the pre-order for the Mockingjay pt 1 DVD or Blue-Ray along with the features that we can expect to find on the disk, which are an 8-part feature documentary, tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman, deleted scenes, and a first look at Insurgent. The release is set to come out March 1st.

How many times did you see Mockingjay pt 1?

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New radio version of “Mockingjay pt 1” song “The Hanging Tree” released

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With the success that “The Hanging Tree” has been getting on iTunes, a pop version has been released with the hopes that it can find its way on to the radio.  You can listen to it by going here.

“The Hanging Tree” is song by the Mockingjay star, Jennifer Lawrence (aka Katniss) and she sings the song at a time of the movie when the rebellion needed another spark. It did just that, as it lead to another rebellious fight against The Capital.

The song means a lot to the movie as it’s a sullen song that went with the tone of the movie, but this pop version is more upbeat and can easily be played a club somewhere. This comes as a shocker to the fans of the book and the movies as they love the song (even though Jennifer Lawrence hated singing it) and

“The Hanging Tree” premiered on the #12 on the Billboard Top 100 and #2 on the Digital chart. It could easily grab the top spot by next week. Right now, the song is only available on iTunes and you can go here to buy your copy of the song.

What do you think of the pop version of “The Hanging Tree”?

as published by on examiner.com

Review: “Mockingjay Pt 1” – The rebellion begins (review from a movie fan POV)

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Starring: Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Liam Hemsworth (Catching Fire), Josh Hutcherson (Catching Fire), Woody Harrelson (TV’s True Detective), Elizabeth Banks (Walk of Shame), Donald Sutherland (Catching Fire), Julianne Moore (Non-Stop), and Philip Seymour Hoffman (A Most Wanted Man)
Director: Francis Lawrence
Rated: PG-13
Movie page: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1951265/

It is finally here. Fans have spent the last 365 patiently waiting, pledging their allegiance to District 13, and it’s finally here. The release of the first half of Mockingjay.

We join Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) as she tries to wrap her head around what happened in Catching Fire and the fact that she is now smack dab in the middle of the war. President Coin (Julianne Moore) is working her to be their Mockingjay while Katniss struggles being without Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) for the first time since the first Games.

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Fans of the book met the split with mixed reactions, so of course, director Francis Lawrence and the writers had the tough task of making the split worth it.

And they succeeded.

Anyone who has read the book knows that not much happens in the first half, but the movie is able to grab you right from the first few seconds all the way to the last few seconds.

With splits in the past, it becomes a task of making a movie that tells a story of its own even though it’s a split and doesn’t serve to just set up the finale. This movie accomplishes that and proves that there is more to this story then what you would think. This movie is able to stand on it’s own, while set up the finale. Two birds one stone. Perfect.

The acting was as good as ever. Jennifer Lawrence proves once again why she is perfect for this role as she brings Katniss to life in this movie. Liam Hemsoworth shows off his action side as he joins the rebellion but it is Josh Hutcherson is the one that steals the show. His scenes with the Capital and the end are amazing and Hutcherson really stepped up for this movie.

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Francis Lawrence continues the amazing job that was done in Catching Fire as the rebellion starts and spreads in this movie. The action sequences were done well and the use of CGI wasn’t over the top and fit with the story.

Now of course, there are some flaws that should be looked at. Finnick and Joanna have become such important characters to the story and they weren’t in it as much as I would have liked or expected considering the movie.

Overall, the movie is a great addition to the already stellar series and sets up the finale next year. There are some fluff scenes but doesn’t disrupt the flow of the movie.

Rating: A

What did you think of the movie?

as published by on examiner.com

Katniss shown in the new “Mockingjay” poster

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Late last week, District 13 announced that the leader was coming on 9/10 and that we need to stay tuned. Well, the wait is over.

The official poster of Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) as the Mockinjay has been released. The poster had the trademark burning mockingjay in the background with Katniss dressed in black with her bow and arrow on her back. Obviously this poster is meant to show that Katniss is getting ready for the war against the Capital.

But that’s not even the best part.

Not only is the poster release but the trailer release date is announced. And no, you won’t have to wait until next week or two weeks. @TheHungerGamers tweeted about the release date and with a new image from what is probably in the trailer.

Yep just five more days until we get that precious two minutes and thirty seconds of bliss as we watch new footage from the movie released. No doubt that we will probably see some of the footage already show in the teaser, but there will be at least a minute’s worth of new stuff.

There is a short 10 second preview of the trailer and it has Snow talking to Katniss. He says ‘It’s the things that we love the most, that destroy us.” No doubt that Snow is talking about Peeta and using him to destroy her.

On a side note and more of an interesting fact, Jennifer Lawrence has broken a world record. Yep that’s right, according to the 2014 version of Guinness World Record book, Jennifer Lawrence has become the highest grossing heroine in the film industry. And that’s only with two movies out. No doubt, the Record book added this category because of all the movies that have been coming out and it’s no surprise that Lawrence is the winner. No doubt she’s going to set the bar real high as she still has two more movies as Katniss to come out.

What do you think of the new movie poster?

as published by on examiner.com