The Martian (2015) – I loved this film. It’ll land among my favorites of the year. It’s got thrills, tension, humor, and a great lead performance by Matt Damon. Amazing supporting cast, too, though Damon’s fellow crew are somewhat under-utilized. (Needs more Chastain.) The book that served as the film’s source material has been on my to-read list for a year or so, and now it’s been pushed to the top!
Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials (2015) – I wasn’t really jazzed to see this film. I saw the first one and enjoyed it well enough, but not so much as to actively look forward to the next in the series. I ended up seeing The Scorch Trials anyway because I felt like going to the theater and had seen just about everything else that was playing, haha. It’s an alright flick, some decent performances and a plenty of action, which certainly didn’t leave me bored. I liked the “Right Arm” group that was introduced.
Sicario (2015) – Effectively suspenseful, but I didn’t love it, especially not as much as everyone else seems to. Not much to say about this one — it’s one of those films that leaves me struggling to put my thoughts together. Benicio del Toro gives a great performance and was by far my favorite part of the film.
Woodlawn (2015) – This will come as a surprise to many a long-time TMP reader as I used to avoid overtly religious films like the plague, but I enjoyed Woodlawn. It captures the time period (the 1970s) pretty well, and the story is consistently engaging, even when the preachiness gets a bit heavy-handed. From the perspective of historical interest, I would have liked to see further exploration of the subplot involving Tony’s girlfriend and her more “radical” friends. However, I can understand why it wasn’t expanded upon — the focus here is on two things: faith, and football. It’s a sports movie, not a civil rights movie, despite the fact that the story is about integration. The acting and production quality are higher than average for a Christian indie flick, which made me like the film more. Obviously, Woodlawn isn’t going to be for everyone; it comes from PureFlix, the distributor of faith-based films such as God’s Not Dead. The LA Times review described it as “an evangelical Remember the Titans,” which I think paints a very accurate picture of the film.