The best movies I’ve seen in 2016

As a fellow retrogamer, I have pretty much the opposite approach toward movies. I usually try to watch as many motion pictures that I missed in the theaters or that I missed during my youth but I’m not obsessed with those as I am with games.

Over the past year, I’ve watched so many of them that listing them all would be pointless. Instead I’ve chose three that I found to be mind-blowing.

1. The Theory of Everything by James Marsh starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones – 2014

Earlier in 2016, I watched Jupiter Ascending that was also starring Eddie Redmayne but was a piece of garbage. So I didn’t really know what to expect. Boy was I blown away! I knew a little bit about Stephen Hawking but definitely not to that extent. The movie is pure gold. It begins in 1963 when Stephen is 21 and a student at Cambridge. We follow him to a party where he meets his wife-to-be Jane. Then we see him gradually becoming ill until he falls and passes out to learn, once awake, that he has a motor neurone disease known as ALS or known as Lou Gehrig’s disease after the famous baseball player. This gradually degenerative illness is well depicted and Eddie Redmayne perfectly act the affected real life scientist. It’s a touching love story between a man and a woman. It’s a beautiful story of a fight against a deadly disease and the creative solutions they found to overcome it. Finally it is the wonderful struggle of a woman who has to face the illness of her husband, the upbringing of their kids, her studies and her declining feelings to her lover because of her exhaustion.

Favorite quote: “Look what we made.”

2. Rocky V by John G. Avildsen featuring Sylvester Stallone and Talia Shire – 1990

I already talked long enough about this underrated piece of movie history and why I think this is one of the best in the series. I felt for him and completely understood what the character was going through.

Favorite quote: “My ring’s outside.”

3. Non-stop by Jaume Collet-Serra featuring Liam Neeson and Julian Moore – 2014

I love planes, and Liam Neeson is one of my favorite actors. I loved him in the Taken series (especially the first) and I also loved his portrayal of the Jedi Master Qui Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode I The Phantom Menace (yes I’m one of those people). So give me a movie with the Irish man taking place in a place and I’m sold. Non-stop is fast paced investigation led by a broken alcoholic air marshal who has to discover a potential killer in his flight while proving his innocence as the thing quickly escalates to become a set up against the sky cop. I loved how Liam Neeson’s character turns to be a Cassandra as nothing he will say will be taken seriously (I know this feeling all too well sadly) and how he will let his acts speak for himself.

Favorite quote: “You should just have handed out pamphlets. It would have been a lot easier.”

I also read a lot (for my standards in 2016 and I’ll share my best finds or even the ones that changed my life.

A plea for Rocky V

I recently watched the whole Rocky saga (which celebrated its 40th Anniversary in November) including Creed as the character of Rocky is part of the movie. I heard a lot of things about it in general especially bad things about the fifth instalment as being the worst of all or a bad movie. Even Stallone himself rated this entry with a beautiful 0 out of 10.

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Call me weird but I preferred this one over Rocky Balboa. Now, hear me out: what I loved about Rocky V is the back to the roots feeling we have. Here is the synopsis: because of a bad investment authorized by Paulie, Rocky, who is now finally retired, and his family lose their entire fortune and have to relocate to downtown Philadelphia where the first movie started it all. Rocky is getting older and is now a trainer at Mickey’s old gym. Adrian got her job back at the pet shop. Robert Jr. (Played by Stallone’s late son Sage) starts school and is getting bullied. In the meantime a great new character is introduced, Tommy “The Machine” Gunn played by the late real life boxer Tommy Morrison. He wants Rocky to train him as he has the will and the motivation to become a champion, the eye of the tiger. At first, the retired boxer refuses, citing that he doesn’t want to do that. However, Tommy insists over and over and Rocky ends up accepting the challenge. This where it became really interesting for me. A bond is created, a bond you only see between a fighter and his trainer: Rocky and Mickey, Rocky and Apollo and now Tommy and Rocky. You can feel it in the movie and it is even addressed in it, after loosing his fortune, Rocky feels alive and has a reason to get up every morning. However, it has some consequences. This new relationship takes a lot of Rocky’s space in his life and he doesn’t have time for his family especially his son who looks up to him and need his help.

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Of course there is the George Washington Duke character, who is a little over the top but as a promoter, why wouldn’t he be? If he reminds you of real life boxing promoter Don King, it’s because Duke is based off of him. His presence clearly doesn’t add any depth or anything, it makes the movie less credible especially during the scenes when he pushes Rocky to fight his then protégé, Union Cane (played by real life boxer Michael Anthony Williams). It’s embarrassing to watch.

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Then you have Tommy “The Machine” Gunn who is my favorite character from this movie. He is a gullible young man with a certain talent for boxing. As we now and learn, he got some bad habits from the streets and has a tendency to not listen. Even though he only has eyes for Rocky at the beginning of the movie, Duke manages to get his claws around and starts throwing money, apartment, and cars at him. Needless to say that his friendship with Rocky is forgotten. Gunn is young, impressionable and flawed like someone his age with his mysterious history would be. Things get especially sour during a press conference when journalists (who are real boxing reporters) states that Tommy’s opponent from whom he just won the Championship belt from was not a real and decent adversary, thus doubting Gunn’s legitimacy. Rocky is still the champ by the way as he retired without losing his title. Naturally, Tommy wants to fight him so he can show once and for all that he is tough enough. Of course Balboa refuses leading to the best catchphrase of the movie: “My ring’s outside” ensuing a street fight. It’s very good and a welcomed change in the series.

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Rocky is victorious and all is well that ends well. This is also the last time we’ll see all the main cast of Rocky but I won’t spoil it here. I just hope that you’ll watch or re-watch Rocky V with a new and more forgiving eye.