Top 5 2015 Releases – Movies (outside of Star Wars)

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!


Top 5 2015 Releases – Movies (outside of Star Wars)


I don’t make it to the theater nearly as much as I once did (thanks, fatherhood). This year I saw more than usual since my kids are no longer screaming toddlers. There are plenty of movies released in 2015 that I haven’t gotten to yet – so if you see any shocking absences it’s probably because I haven’t seen it. Recommendations are always welcome! Also please note that I’m intentionally writing this prior to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens because my lifelong Star Wars obsession has a tendency to unfairly tip the scales.


So without further adieu, here are my Top 5 favorite theatrical movie releases from this year…..


#5 – Kingsman: The Secret Service




The Kingsman seemed to take everyone off guard this year. Full disclaimer – I’m counting this in my “theatrical movie release list” even though I missed it in theaters. Right after watching I wrote a review/comparison between the movie and it’s Mark Millar’s graphic novel source material. Spoiler alert – the movie is better than the book…. a statement that is rarely true. Recently I caught three quarters of the movie again on HBO and instantly remembered how much fun the movie was. The Kingsman is making its rounds on the premium channels and is still on Redbox. Check it out if you haven’t yet! I hear there is (somehow) a sequel in development. It’ll be interesting to see how they can pull that one off. There is hope for it though as Matthew Vaughn remains attached to the project.


#4 – Krampus




As my recent movie review explains, this year brought us a new holiday classic. Krampus is the trifecta of three pivotal ‘H’ words – horror, humor, and heart. Take the time before Christmas to go see it in the theaters so you won’t feel any regret during inevitable viewings in future holiday seasons. My kids really wanted to come with my wife and I to see this in the theater. I’m very glad I didn’t cave and allow them to join us. Although there are far, far worse horror movies out there with PG-13+ ratings, Krampus has some visuals/frights that would be too much for little ones. I can’t wait to expose it to them when the time is right!


#3 – Mad Max: Fury Road




Here’s another one I’m kicking myself for missing in the theaters. I have a few colleagues in my office that paid to watch this in the theater upwards of five times. They hounded me to go but I still didn’t. God dammit were they ever right! Fury Road is a visual feast of perfectly executed action scenes supported by fantastic casting. It succeeds in being a totally immersive experience that leaves you gasping for breath. George Miller made a brilliant film because he took his damn time to do it! He did it right instead of rushing it out in a desperate bid for ticket sales. Now excuse me while I go kick myself once again for not making it to the theater.


#2 – Jurassic World




I have very fond memories of seeing the original Jurassic Park movies in the theaters as a young, dinosaur-loving nerd. The original movie (and I suppose the two sequels) are timeless movies that hold up just as well now as they did twenty years ago. Recently I exposed my kids to the bluray versions and through them got to relive that excitement and terror I first felt. With this personal attachment, the prospect of Jurassic World scared the shit out of me for all the wrong reasons. Is nothing sacred to Hollywood anymore? Still, I had to give it a shot because JURASSIC PARK!


I took my son and my dad to an IMAX 3D showing opening weekend. My dad took me to the first movie when I was about my son’s age so regardless of how bad the movie could be, I knew seeing it in the theater was destined to be a great memory for us all. Thank flippin’ goodness our fears were unfounded! The movie was everything we wanted it to be.


Jurassic World did a fantastic job at paying its respects to the original while not being held in the sequel confines. It solidly set its own path that we’ll thankfully get to explore in the future. Casting was pretty good with Chris Pratt adding his magic touch to the blockbuster. Hooray – they didn’t ruin our childhoods!


#1 – Ant-Man




Marvel ended their Cinematic Phase Two with an underdog who rose to the challenge. Ant-Man was a fantastically fun movie which created an origin story the called back to the enjoyment we saw in the first Iron Man. Paul Rudd has always been the kind of actor you’d like to buy a drink – in Ant-Man I wanted to buy him two. The special effects were awesome and unique. I’m very glad I shelled out the extra cash to see it in 3D. This was a rare instance where 3D was used to add depth to the film rather than just as a flashy gimmick. With the movie’s recent release on Blu Ray I will definitely be watching it again soon. If you’re not a comic book movie fan or haven’t seen all of the other Marvel movies then don’t let it stop you from watching Ant-Man. It started out as a self-contained one-off that was looped into the universe and thus doesn’t require the extensive background of the prior films.


What were your favorite movies? Think I missed something amazing? Let me know!

LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set

When I first heard about the movie adaptation of Ant-Man I was skeptical. I wasn’t very familiar with the character (being the DC loyalist that I am) so it was far too easy to dismiss. Compared to the previous cinematic behemoths, Ant-Man seemed ill-suited to meet the standard established by the highly successful MCU. Likewise, this LEGO set didn’t catch my eye.

Then the buzz started for Ant-Man after its overseas release. Little by little, I realized my preconceived notions about the property were most likely way off. Several weeks after the US premiere I took my family to see it in IMAX 3D. What I fantastic film! Seeing it in 3D was well worth the higher ticket price. It was the most fun I’d had with a movie in the theaters since Guardians of the Galaxy.

After that I was sold – the LEGO set had to be added to my collection. Whenever I receive a book royalty check I always do two very grown up things with it: take my family out for something fun and BUY LEGOS!

LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set (76039)

I loved all 183 pieces of this clever set. I’ll highlight the points I found most appealing:

Difficulty – the design itself comes off as complicated, however, its implementation is actually quite simple. Some of the connections reminded me of the LEGO Ideas Exo Suit but with more durability for play. My 5 1/2 year old daughter easily helped with constructing the red and yellow ‘bricks’.

Minifigures – these are always the best part of any set and the Ant-Man figures were no exception. Yellow Jacket’s weapons/rocket pack makes him very top heavy so I used the super jumper piece as a stand. I’m glad this included the Hank Pym character in addition to the regular Ant-Man. There’s enough of a contrast between the two to keep it from being a simple copy; Hank looks older and even more frail just like his character in the movie. I also like that the helmets are designed with translucent eyeshields to show the painted eyes underneath. It’s a level of detail that has become synonymous with the LEGO brand.

Price – this could be the best quality because $19.99 is an absolute steal for what’s in the box: three unique minifigures, a display-worthy final product, and an accurate portrayal of the source material. LEGO could have charged $30 and I’d still rave about the value.

My rating of the LEGO Ant-Man Final Battle Set is a perfect 10 out of 10. Much like the movie, this set is absolutely worth your time and money.

10 out of 10