Behold one critic’s bold predictions for the movies of 2015

by Jorge Ignacio Castillo


filmThere’s no point in complaining about the number of comic-book-based films coming out, or the absence of original ideas in Hollywood, because it ain’t gonna change. And also because a much more interesting phenomenon is taking place — studios are betting more and more on expensive properties that can also have an impact abroad (particularly in China).

The problem is that with ticket prices skyrocketing and attendance down, there’s not enough room for everybody to succeed. Audiences are forced to be choosier (a family trip to the multiplex approaches $100 a pop these days) so there will definitely be casualties. The question becomes: who will go down and who will thrive?

Here’s my forecast for 2015.

FIFTY SHADES OF GREY SUCKS, MAKES TRUCKLOADS OF MONEY ANYWAY You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see this one coming. The book started as Twilight fan fiction, hardly a promising sign. Also, don’t count on the steamiest pages of the novel making it to the big screen; Universal wants an R-rated hit, not an NC-17 cult movie.

THE WACHOWSKIS ARE GOOD AGAIN After a number of high-profile failures (Speed Racer, Cloud Atlas), Jupiter Ascending seems right in their wheelhouse: dystopian reality, insanely complicated action set-pieces, and a “chosen one” plot gimmick. And luck seems to be on their side this time as well, as stars Channing Tatum and Eddie Redmayne are both at the peak of their popularity. The only downside? The film’s release date has been pushed around the calendar a fair bit, which may indicate lack of confidence from the studio.

WILL SMITH STARS IN ATROCIOUS MOVIE Once upon a time, Will Smith was entertaining. His films were light as a feather, but undeniably amusing. Then he started to take himself too seriously (Seven Pounds), and peddle his family (After Earth). Based on the trailers, the “adult thriller” Focus looks terrible — like Ocean’s Eleven played straight and trying way too hard to appear sexy.


FANS FLOCK TO WATCH PAUL WALKER’S SWAN SONG The Fast and the Furious franchise is the rare saga that has gotten better with every chapter. The unexpected death of Paul Walker made the shooting of Furious 7 particularly difficult, and the less said about the actor dying in a fiery car crash the better. Still, you can count on the fans turning the movie into a farewell party for Walker, no matter what the actual quality of the film is.

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON WINS ALL THE BOX OFFICES The first Avengers movie made US $623 million, $137 million short of Avatar. The comparative advantage this time around comes from knowing Joss Whedon is capable of delivering a quality product for both neophytes and hardcore fans. (We Buffy fans knew it all along.) Plus, this is the Empire Strikes Back chapter of the saga (a movie Whedon, ironically, doesn’t like),  and should open the door to the Civil Wars storyline, which pits Captain America against Iron Man. Also, Hulkbuster!

ANT-MAN BOMBS As much appreciation as the fanboys may have for Marvel, the firing of Edgar Wright from the helm of Ant-Man rubbed a ton of people the wrong way. The iconoclastic filmmaker was certain to provide a unique experience, as he did with the Cornetto trilogy and the criminally underrated Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. His unceremonious dismissal, followed by the hiring of Peyton Reed (Yes Man, The Break-Up, nothing good), felt like a very corporate-minded decision. Considering the fact that Ant-Man isn’t a well-known property, I can’t imagine people flocking to see this one.


TELEFILM CANADA OPERATES IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS Teen Lust (horny Satanists trying to get laid), Bang Bang Baby (mutant Armageddon meets Elvis musical), Heartbeat (hipster girl gets dumped, turns gay overnight): all awful, and all got Telefilm assistance during 2014. I wonder what’s coming this year… I’ll go with a zombie uprising in Fort McMurray, with humanity’s last hope being Neil Young and his band of malcontents. Actually that sounds awesome, so it probably wouldn’t get any money.

PIXAR GETS ITS GROOVE BACK The pop-psychology animated flick Inside Out turns out to be fun, insightful and sequel-proof!

MAD MAX KILLS IT WITH THE CRITICS BUT NOBODY WATCHES It seems director George Miller has learned plenty of new tricks in the 30 years between Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road. The problem with long-delayed sequels is always dwindling interest, and one would be hard-pressed to find people salivating for a Mel Gibson-free adventure across a post-apocalyptic Australian outback. That said, the trailer? Nice.

BEST SEQUEL: JURASSIC WORLD. WORST SEQUEL: TERMINATOR GENISYS It’s time to terminate the Terminator. Outside of the two Cameron movies, the follow-ups have been a waste of time for everybody involved (except for that time when Christian Bale yelled at a cinematographer). This one looks extra dumb. As for Jurassic World, two words: trained raptors!

I KNOW HOW THE HUNGER GAMES ENDS You can too. Read the book. Or at least the Wikipedia page.

SPIELBERG, SCORSESE AND TARANTINO MEET IN THE MOTHER OF ALL OSCAR RACES The three signature names of American cinema are expected to make an appearance at the multiplex this year, Tarantino with a western (The Hateful Eight), Spielberg with a Cold War thriller (currently untitled) and Scorsese with a culture-clash drama (Silence). I’m not complaining.

STAR WARS RULES AGAIN We were all dumb enough to show up for three appalling prequels so there’s no question we’ll be back for Han, Luke, Leia and Chewie’s last hurrah. I was three when the franchise launched, 24 and single when The Phantom Menace opened, and will be 40 and married for The Force Awakens. Whose life hasn’t been marked by this universe? Besides, there’s no way J.J. Abrams could screw Star Wars up worse than George Lucas.

PLANET S CRITIC DIES IN PUZZLING CIRCUMSTANCES There will be multiple suspects: studios, actors, directors, editors, Oilers fans and Shane Hnetka. His tombstone shall read, “Here lies Jorge. He once gave Peter Jackson’s King Kong remake five out of five prairie dogs. What a goof.”