Tag Archives: 50 shades of grey

The Best of 2015 Thus Far

As we’re now well and truly past the half-way mark for the year, it seems like as good a time as any for a few of the Failed Critics contributors to bundle together and reveal which films they’ve enjoyed the most so far. Come December, we’ll still be running the annual Failed Critics Awards, giving you the opportunity to cast your vote for your favourite films of 2015.

In the meantime, let’s have a quick run through of what some of our writers and podcasters have chosen as their five favourite films of the year. Will the biggest film of the year so far, Jurassic World, be featured? Will United Passions somehow infect this article too? Will anyone pick anything other than Mad Max?? Find out below…


by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad maxFighting the urge to fill my word limit with just paragraphs of me repeating the words “Perfect”, “Awesome” and “The most fun I’ve had this year with clothes on”, I’ll try and be a little more cohesive in my description. It had been thirty years since the last film in the iconic Mad Max franchise, to bring a fourth entry to a series after that long is a massive undertaking at the best of times. But when its original star is as iconic as the film’s that made him famous, replacing him as well would be a recipe for disaster in any other filmmakers hands. Thankfully for all of us, the series’ creator made a triumphant return and gave us one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. A breathtaking, visceral two hours (on three occasions) in the cinema left me shellshocked and shaking with excitement and almost unable to write my review when I got home I was so pumped. Oh, and there’s a dude on a truck made of drums and speakers playing heavy metal on a flame throwing guitar! No more needs to be said!

2] Ex Machina

3] Whiplash

4] Still Alice

5] It Follows

WORST: Avengers: Age of Ultron – Years of subtle hype and weeks of actual hype in the buildup to this, the biggest Marvel movie yet. What we got was a more than two hour long wet fart of a film that left me blindingly disappointed with a really bad taste in my mouth.


by Paul Field (@pafster)

1] Wild Tales

wild talesDark, twisted and utterly enthralling anthology from Argentina. All of the stories are great, no fillers here as is often the case with anthology films. I love a revenge film, and to have 6 served up in one sitting is a real treat. Hard to pick my favourite… the parking ticket is brilliant, the plane passengers unsettling and hilarious, the overtaking motorist caper that escalates out of all control…..but I think the Wedding. Pissing off the bride on her wedding day is an absolute no no, and here, she conveys her displeasure in spectacular fashion. As a first feature from Damián Szifron, this is outstanding and will take some toppling come the end of the year.

2] Hyena

3] Creep

4] We Are Still Here

5] Buzzard

WORST: Lost River Ryan Gosling believing his own hype, delivers the most pretentious load of cobblers ever committed to film. Utter, utter toilet.. and yes, I’ve seen United Passions, Accidental Love and the new Danny Dyer film this year too. Its worse than all three of those, on repeat, for eternity.


by Owen Hughes (@ohughes86)

1] Birdman: or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

birdmanReleased in the UK on 1 January 2015, I still don’t think I’ve seen a funnier, more entertaining film in the cinema all year. Michael Keaton is absolutely phenomenal as the flailing former superhero movie star attempting to reinvent himself as a stage actor and producer. His manic behaviour, coupled with director Iñárritu’s frenetic, constantly adapting story shot as if the whole production was just one long take; I just loved every minute of it. However, I was hesitant to put it as number one on my list, given a couple people I’ve recommended it to have hated it! But ultimately, despite seeing it only two days into the year, nothing else has managed to better it yet for me.

2] Mad Max: Fury Road

3] Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Cannon Films

4] Cobain: Montage of Heck

5] John Wick

WORST: United Passions – Technically not even released in the UK this year, and unlike Jupiter Ascending (cinema) and The Man With The Iron Fists 2 (VOD), I didn’t even watch this legally. But if there’s a more abhorrent, reprehensible piece of offensive propagandist garbage with as high a budget and released globally within the next decade, I’ll be surprised.


By Matt Lambourne (@LamboMat)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max 4I’m still thinking about this movie, weeks after seeing it. The action, the character, the dialogue, the music and most importantly, the SCALE. It’s over the top in every sense and works for me on every level. I can’t wait to get hold of the home release and enjoy it without the hindrance of 3D. Absolutely superb movie!

2] American Sniper

3] Furious 7

4] Jurassic World

5] Terminator Genisys

WORST: Fifty Shades of Grey Bloated, tacky, overly polished and un-sexy. I didn’t get an erection and I didn’t get a shag that night.

by Steve Norman (@StevePN86)

1] The Theory of Everything

theory of everythingThe Stephen Hawking biopic earned lead man Eddie Redmayne an Oscar and deservedly so. His portrayal of a genius of a man going through various stages of a terrible, life changing illness was extremely believable. The film also put over a side of Hawking you don’t often see, the friend, parent and husband, not the man who invented time. Or something.

2] Ex Machina

3] Kingsman: The Secret Service

4] Selma

5] Furious 7

WORST: United Passions Garbage of the highest order. I found Tim Roth less deplorable playing a racist in Selma than I did playing Sepp Blatter in this tripe. It’s offensive that it was even made.


by Callum Petch (@CallumPetch)

1] Mad Max: Fury Road

mad max fury roadFury Road is the kind of film whose existence is a reminder that this Movies thing might be alright after all, a beacon of hope that we can all look to in dark times and remind ourselves that we can, in fact, have it so much better.  From its uncomplicated story, to its unique world and set design, to its outstanding special effects, to its jaw-dropping practical stunts, to its brilliantly subtle Tom Hardy performance, to its mesmerising Charlize Theron performance, to its openly and furiously feminist and matriarchal heart, every last frame of this utter masterpiece is what I have heard perfection is supposed to be like.  It is everything that modern Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking isn’t, a purposeful pushback against everything wrong with those films right now that, in a just world, will have everyone following its example in the years to come.  Both times that I saw this movie, my veins pulsed with pure adrenaline from frame one and the feeling did not stop until long after I left the screen in tears of pure joy at that perfect final shot.  I foresee nothing else coming anywhere close to it for the rest of this year, mainly cos I have no idea what’ll happen to me if there is a better film than Fury Road to come.

2] Magic Mike XXL

3] The Voices

4] Shaun The Sheep Movie

5] Spy

WORST: Entourage  I said everything I needed to say about this reprehensible piece of abysmal shite here and here.  I’m not going to repeat myself.

US Box Office Report: 22/05/15 – 24/05/15

Tomorrowland comes today and is really underwhelming, Poltergeist is here and did really mediocre… y’know what?  This whole Memorial Day Weekend was basically a total bust, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

You may not know this, but this past weekend was a Bank Holiday.  No, really.  A second one in the same month, the official “Spring Bank Holiday”.  No, I really don’t know why.  Maybe we have it so that, when America shuts down for Memorial Day Weekend, we don’t have to wonder what those lazy ingrates are celebrating for whilst we have to keep going to our miserable dead-end jobs.  Did anything even actually shut down on Monday for anybody?  All of the shops in my village remained open as if it was any normal Monday, as if even they realised that this bank holiday is utterly pointless…

Hmm…?  Oh, right, movies.  Sorry, I was awake until 3:30am last night essay writing and got barely 5 hours of sleep.  My brain might make some left-turns during this piece, so be prepared.

Anyways, Memorial Day Weekend!  Typically, this is the period in which studios launch their biggest heavy-hitters to guide the 4-day weekend to piles-full of Scrooge McDuck money.  For example, last year, 20th Century Fox dropped X-Men: Days of Future Past, and despite humanity collectively forgetting everything that ever happened in that 2 hour piece of moving wallpaper as soon as they left the cinema – yeah, I said it – the film still opened to a ridiculous $110 million.  Analyst expectations were high, everyone was on the edge of their seat, this is meant to be the first Summer Blockbuster season that crosses $5 billion, after all, so Memorial Day Weekend should be a fever pit of activity, right?

Small problem with that: the two big films that people gave a sh*t about came out last weekend.  Instead we got a bad Brad Bird film, which is a phrase that physically hurts to type, and a crappy pointless horror movie remake.  Surprising nobody, the box office promptly died on its arse.

Tomorrowland is technically the winner, since it ended up in first place over the period, but it could barely scrape together $40 million over all four days which, for a film that cost $190 million to make and has been marketed and advertised to the hilt, is more than a little pathetic and embarrassing.  Hell, it barely beat the second week of Pitch Perfect 2, which was in an almost dead-heat with Tomorrowland for most of the weekend!  Meanwhile, Poltergeist posted exactly the numbers that you are expecting a crappy horror movie remake to post.  It started out strong on Friday with a good $9 million, then proceeded to sink like a stone once every horror fan collectively realised that, yeah, it was a bit sh*t, wasn’t it?  It eventually finished the long weekend with $26 million for fifth place.

In the land of the limited releases… things were rather crap over there, too, actually.  The only thing worth talking about was When Marnie Was There, currently the last planned Studio Ghibli film so, let’s face it, it would have still been the only thing worth talking about even if the limited releases were filled to the brim with films of quality and note.  Well, for the possible swansong of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, animation studios that has ever existed, the public came out in force!  They all collectively joined arms, packed their best tissues, and skipped merrily together down to their local cine…  Sigh.  Yeah, that didn’t happen.  Marnie managed to post a three-day weekend total of $27,388 from 2 screens.  By contrast, Isao Takahata’s The Tale of the Princess Kaguya managed $54,915 from 3 screens, whilst Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises scored $313,751 from 21 screens.  So, a bit underwhelming.  It did, though, post the highest per-screen average of the whole miserable weekend, at $13,694, so little victories and all that.


tomorrowland 1

This Full List will only be doing the three-day period of this four-day weekend (but including the fourth day in the total gross so far area) cos that’s the formula.  You know what happens when you mess with formula?  Chaos and anarchy, that’s what!

Box Office Results: Friday 22nd May 2015 – Sunday 24th May 2015

1] Tomorrowland

$32,972,000 / $41,736,000 / NEW

My review, for those of you who enjoy reading my opinions on stuff, for some bizarre reason.  Yeah, really disappointed that this one didn’t work and I lay the blame at Brad Bird’s feet.  I know that a lot of people are going to blame Damon Lindelof, and I do get why, but he’s not mainly to blame, here.  I mean, Lindelof’s various works are a lot of things, but the last thing that they are is preachy and obsessively on-the-nose about their messaging, to the detriment of everything else.  Bird is usually way better than this, but he dropped the ball here for whatever reason.  Damn shame.

2] Pitch Perfect 2

$30,830,000 / $117,305,000

For those of you following along at home, that is a 55% drop between weekends which is a far better hold than I thought this film would have.  It is typical, after all, for female-targeted movies to drop majorly between weekends – last year’s box office smash The Fault In Our Stars collapsed 70% between weekends, whilst Fifty Shades Of Grey plummeted 73% between weekends – so this hold is pretty miraculous.  It’s not tearing it up overseas like I thought it would, but $250 million worldwide still seems like a lock by this point, and combined with the inevitable smash that it will be on DVD…

Give me a moment, I just want to savour all of this cos like sh*t is anybody going to give this the proper credit that it is due.

3] Mad Max: Fury Road

$24,815,000 / $95,540,000

Look, I know that everybody is collectively crapping their pants because Fury Road hasn’t slaughtered every box office record and made off with all the money in the world in its first week.  I get that, I really do, the quick-fix narrative of modern day box office reportage makes any film that doesn’t immediately dominate all-comers a complete failure that will sully impressive track-records and ruin careers.  But look a little closer for a second: Max spent the weekdays trading incredibly close places with Pitch Perfect 2, whilst posting very strong numbers, it’s doing very well overseas, that R-rating was always going to handicap it anyway, $150 million domestic now seems a lock, and it’s only dropped 45% between weekends with nothing else to really challenge it until Jurassic World comes along.

Plus, as myself and Lucy discovered on Thursday together for the second time, it’s still an utterly mesmeric movie that deserves way more than a ridiculous box office narrative attached to it.  Believe me, it’s going to be fine.

4] Poltergeist

$22,600,000 / $25,509,000 / NEW

Yep, the reason why it finishes fifth on the four-day scale is because it only made $2.9 million on the Monday.  Crappy horror movies, and especially pointless crappy remakes of actually good horror movies, won’t hang around for long.  Nor, in fact, will actually good horror movies.  Really, no horror movies do particularly strongly at the cinema.  Huh.

5] The Avengers: Age of Ultron

$21,691,000 / $410,978,000

do we think anything will ever beat Avatar’s $2.7 billion all-time worldwide gross?  Can anything?  I ask because I don’t want Avatar to be remembered as a statistic, mainly because I don’t want Avatar to be remembered at all.  Nobody remembers anything from the movie itself, anyway, so we’re already halfway there!

6] Hot Pursuit

$3,600,000 / $30,300,000

The rest of this chart might be wrong, don’t blame me if it is.  Box Office Mojo has clearly been handed over to a clueless intern for whatever reason, and is thusly impossible to read and trust.  I can’t find anything, several reported grosses are just plain wrong – yeah, sure Pitch Perfect 2 posted a $30 million weekend but only did $900,000 on Friday – and their write-ups are somehow even worse than mine.  What’s going on, folks?  Sort it out!  Where am I going to go otherwise for this stuff?  Deadline?  (*snorts derisively*)

7] Furious 7

$2,232,000 / $347,687,000

So I am actually now cross-checking with Deadline on all of these entries for total accuracy.  Feel I need to explain that that was my attempt at a light-hearted joke and that I harbour no ill will to any potential outlets who are looking for writers and, if they’re gigs of the paying variety, I can be reached at p…  (*author notices Owen eyeballing him, hastily covers up work and moves on*)

8] Far From The Madding Crowd

$2,200,000 / $6,048,000

At least I never have to hear “Come all ye fair and tender girls” ever again.  Hearing it in front of damn near every single film for 3 straight months was absolutely maddening, which is something I should never have to say about Carey Mulligan’s singing.

9] Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2

$1,875,000 / $66,358,000

Kevin James’ next film has just been picked up by Netflix, the company that just won’t stop enabling Happy Madison affiliates despite common goddamn sense.  If this is this trade-off for Orange Is The New Black and Bojack Horseman… well, I can’t really have an opinion in this case as I haven’t watched either show yet.  They are in my cue, though, so I’ll get to them around 2018.  At the earliest.

10] Home

$1,753,000 / $168,763,000

Well, after nine weeks of quietly decent performing, it’s time to say goodbye to Home.  It’s almost certainly not done well enough to justify DreamWorks continuing to spend $135 million on every damn film they release – thank CHRIST, that lesson cannot be hammered into them fast enough – but it’s hopefully done strong enough to keep them afloat for another year.  Yay!  Now I’m just going to go and find myself some Tip merchandise so that I can feel good and happy about DreamWorks taking steps towards better representation in ani…

Just one goddamn doll?  One?!

(*buries head in hands, defeated*)

Dropped Out: The Age of Adaline, Ex Machina

Callum Petch is living on such sweet nothing.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch) and listen to Screen 1 on Hullfire Radio every Monday at 9PM BST (site link)!

Failed Critics Podcast: Oscars 2015 Special

project almanacLadies and gentlemen, welcome to this glitzy star-studded episode of the Failed Critics Podcast, brought to you by Matt Lambourne’s well tickled bottom, in association with Paul Field’s Slander.

Steve Norman is donning his sharpest tuxedo to present the podcast, whilst Owen Hughes runs around backstage like a lunatic handing out golden envelopes as we reveal the results of the 87th Academy Awards – and more importantly, we discuss which categories that we correctly predicted last week.

There’s also the nail biting conclusion to the quiz, which is tied at 2-2. Just what the hell has Steve been teasing Owen with this past month?! Speaking of teasing, Matt finally gets bummed out over 50 Shades of Grey, whilst Paul prefers his erotic-drama to be more art-house with The Duke of Burgundy. Meanwhile, Owen explains why Project Almanac is a waste of time and Steve has his Cake Ann-iston’s it [literally the worst pun I’ve written in my entire life].

We’ll be back the same time next week with more reviews and movie chat.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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Failed Critics Podcast: Your Unconventional Desire

focusAs always, your illustrious host Steve Norman and ever present Owen Hughes lead the way through a tightly packed episode. Coming into your earholes to review the 18-rated, arse-ticklingly rude 50 Shades of Grey is Failed Critics debutant, Paul Field. Also joining them this week is Matt Lambourne, mainly so he can recount the story of why he didn’t see the (not so) erotic flick.

The team also craftily knocked out reviews for two other new releases before climaxing with 50 Shades of Grey, as Will Smith’s latest con-film Focus, as well as mind-bending time-travel thriller Predestination also get the once over.

They also somehow found room to squeeze in an extra couple of reviews. Paul filled us in on Korean revenge film I Saw The Devil (as reviewed in the Half Decade In Film article this week); Owen got slightly topical with space-hopping sci-fi Virtuality; and our pal Matt welcomed Die Hard and Enter The Dragon to the party.

Tune in again next week to hear less innuendos, in addition to the results of our Academy Award prediction quiz.

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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For your chance to win a few crumby randomly selected second hand DVD’s that we no longer want, simply comment on this article with your picks for each of the 11 categories below! The winner will be the entrant with the most correct guesses. In the event of a tie, the winner will be chosen at random. The term ‘winner’ is used lightly.

1 – Best Picture
American Sniper – Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood – Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game – Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman
Selma – Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner
The Theory of Everything – Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten
Whiplash – Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster

2 – Best Director
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game

3 – Best Actor
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher as John Eleuthère du Pont
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper as Chris Kyle
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game as Alan Turing
Michael Keaton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Riggan Thomson / Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything as Stephen Hawking

4 – Best Actress
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night as Sandra Bya
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything as Jane Wilde Hawking
Julianne Moore – Still Alice as Dr. Alice Howland
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl as Amy Elliott-Dunne
Reese Witherspoon – Wild as Cheryl Strayed

5 – Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall – The Judge as Judge Joseph Palmer
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood as Mason Evans, Sr.
Edward Norton – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Mike Shiner
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher as Dave Schultz
J. K. Simmons – Whiplash as Terence Fletcher

6 – Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood as Olivia Evans
Laura Dern – Wild as Barbara “Bobbi” Grey
Keira Knightley – The Imitation Game as Joan Clarke
Emma Stone – Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) as Sam Thomson
Meryl Streep – Into the Woods as The Witch

7 – Best Original Screenplay
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) – Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. and Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler – Dan Gilroy

8 – Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper – Jason Hall from American Sniper by Chris Kyle, Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore from Alan Turing: The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson from Inherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten from Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Wilde Hawking
Whiplash – Damien Chazelle from his short film of the same name

9 – Best Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6 – Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls – Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2 – Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea – Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya – Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

10 – Best Foreign Language Film
Ida (Poland) in Polish – Paweł Pawlikowski
Leviathan (Russia) in Russian – Andrey Zvyagintsev
Tangerines (Estonia) in Estonian and Russian – Zaza Urushadze
Timbuktu (Mauritania) in French – Abderrahmane Sissako
Wild Tales (Argentina) in Spanish – Damián Szifrón

11 – Best Documentary – Feature
Citizenfour – Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutsky
Finding Vivian Maier – John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam – Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth – Wim Wenders, Lélia Wanick Salgado and David Rosier
Virunga – Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara